Penn State bus crash kills 2, sends 106 to hospital
WHITE HAVEN, Pa.
Four charter buses loaded with Penn State University students crashed on a foggy interstate early Sunday, killing a student and a bus driver and injuring at least 106 people, authorities said.
The four buses were among six carrying 280 students home from a shopping trip to New York City. University President Graham Spanier said the buses drove into a "very thick wall of fog" on Interstate 80 just after midnight.
In the ensuing chain-reaction wreck, three buses smashed into one another and a fourth hit a guard rail. A pickup truck and two cars also became tangled in the wreckage.
"Everybody wanted to see Rockefeller Center before Christmas. We were really looking forward to getting away," said Jessica Miller, a freshman from York, Pa. She said many of the students on her bus, the second to crash, had been asleep.
"The fog was awful — we got off the bus and we couldn't even see each other right away. We didn't realize the extent of it until we got off the bus," she said. "I saw a girl holding her teeth in her hand. It was just unbelievable."
The driver of her bus, Robert Clifford Burge, 50, of Altoona, was killed. The student killed, whose name was not released, was in the first row of seats on the bus behind Burge's, Spanier said.
At least five people, including another bus driver who underwent surgery, remained hospitalized in serious condition Sunday, Spanier said. Police didn't know the conditions Sunday of the drivers and passengers in the cars.
Most of the other injuries were minor, Spanier said.
Students who weren't injured gathered at the nearby Church of Saint Patrick after the crash until more buses arrived to take them back to State College. The trip had been organized by Penn State's Association of Residence Hall Students.
Cathy Bell, a cashier at the Bandit Truck Stop, said truck drivers were pulling off the road all night to avoid driving in the fog.
"It was almost like a whiteout," Bell said. "You would hit, like, a white spot where you couldn't see anything."
All News Stories for Monday, November 22, 1999