ITHACA, N.Y. – Just after 9 p.m. Sunday, a Big Red Bullet bus carrying 13 passengers veered off I-380 while traveling from Ithaca to New York City, killing one passenger and injuring several. In a statement to investigators, the bus driver said he fell asleep at the wheel.
Officials in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania are still working to determine the cause of the crash. Pennsylvania State Trooper Robert Urban said of the driver’s admission, “Whether that’s what happened or not, we’re still investigating to get to the bottom of it. That was his statement.”
The driver was taken to a nearby hospital for blood testing immediately following the crash, in keeping with federal safety protocols, according to Urban.
Urban also said state police received a 911 call reporting a bus driving erratically on Sunday night before the crash. He said troopers were dispatched and arrived at the reported location a few minutes later, where they found the bus off the side of the highway.
Urban said no charges have been filed against the driver at this time.
Rebecca Blanco, a 2017 graduate of Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, died in the crash.
An Ithaca resident was airlifted from the scene to the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre. She is recovering after multiple surgeries Monday and Tuesday, and is expected to be moved out of the ICU soon according to family members.
Multiple passengers were treated for injuries at Scranton-area hospitals and have been released. In total, 13 people – including the driver – were on the bus at the time of the crash.
A spokesperson for Big Red Bullet said in a statement that the company is “cooperating fully with investigators to determine the exact sequence of events” that led to the crash. The company has not responded to specific questions about the vehicle or driver that were involved.
A New York state official conducted a roadside inspection of Big Red Bullet’s compliance with driver safety regulations on Sept. 26, 2017, according to records available from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association. That inspection did not find any violations.