'We could have died': Passengers escape New Jersey Turnpike bus fire

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ABC's Katherine Scott reports on the New Jersey Turnpike bus fire.

A Greyhound bus from New York City caught fire along the New Jersey Turnpike early Friday morning, stranding passengers and jamming traffic.

It happened at 5:15 a.m. Friday in the southbound lanes in Carneys Point Township, approaching the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

Everyone survived, though passengers say at least one person was injured when trying to get off the bus. They described the chaos and the panic when the bus caught fire, including how the driver yelled, "Leave everything and get off the bus!"

"When you look at that, we could have all died," said one woman who was on board. "We could have all died...You could see the fire going up and up and up, and people were screaming."

The Greyhound bus is now a charred shell.


Passengers' cellphone videos show the flames and the black smoke billowing into the air. Fifty passengers plus the driver were on board when the bus, which was traveling to Washington, D.C., caught fire.

Passengers say it started in the back.

"I just heard somebody scream, 'Flames!' And everybody started screaming," said passenger Karlissa Jackson. from Boston. "People were trampling over each other, people were climbing over the seats."

"I hear, 'Pop! Pop!' I thought somebody flipped and started shooting in the back," said Glendora Riley, from Brooklyn. "And I thought, 'My God, there's children in the back!'"

Everyone managed to get off the bus safely.

For hours, they congregated on the curb of the rest stop near the wreckage. Some luggage was salvaged, but for many, their cash, laptops, medicine, baby formula and other items were burned and gone.

Passengers say the bus driver tried to help, but there was only so much he could do. For four hours, they waited for the replacement bus, which eventually left shortly after 9:30 a.m.

Some borrowed money from strangers for food. There was no formula at the rest stop for one passenger's 5-month-old baby.

"Greyhound should treat us like the airlines treat people and give them a really good compensation," said Freda Henderson, from New York City. "But I heard we were going to have to fight for the compensation."

A Greyhound representative said compensation comes on a case-by-case basis. The company also said the replacement bus came from Baltimore, and it took time to secure a driver.

There is no word on what caused the fire. Greyhound said the bus was checked before the trip, but so far, there is no word on the date of the last comprehensive inspection.

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