A woman was killed and at least two others were critically injured Sunday when a New York-based tour bus crashed on a Del. 1 exit ramp near Red Lion.None of the 50 people aboard escaped injury, state police said, including the driver.
The southbound bus owned by AM USA Express in New York City left the roadway on the exit for northbound U.S. 13, crashing about 4:20 p.m. ET and coming to rest on its side on the shoulder, Sgt. Paul G. Shavack said.
The unidentified woman who died at the scene was found trapped under the bus, Shavack said. Others were trapped inside the bus.
The crash scrambled ambulances and emergency services throughout New Castle County, also causing hours-long delays and miles-long backups as both directions of Del. 1 were closed. Northbound U.S. 13 also backed up for miles south of the site, as a stream of ambulances arrived and removed victims.
The cause of the crash is under investigation by state police and the National Transportation Safety Board, which is sending an investigator, Shavack said. He acknowledged the crash occurred on a sharp and tight curve where past accidents had speed as a contributing factor.
On the rural exit, southbound traffic leaves the high-speed highway and makes a teardrop-shaped loop to head north.
The bus’s point of origin and destination remained unknown Sunday night.
“It had a number of stops over the last few days,” Shavack said. The bus company was sending a bus Sunday night to Delaware from New York to retrieve passengers who were being released after medical care.
The company has four motorcoaches and two minibuses or vans, according to federal motorcoach safety records. The company, with seven drivers, had one crash with no injuries in the last 24 months, the records show.
After Sunday’s crash, New Castle County paramedic crews triaged wounds, with the most severely injured airlifted from the scene by Delaware and Maryland state police helicopters.
Sixteen ambulances from fire companies and emergency medical service agencies treated and transported the injured, said Paramedic Sgt. Michael A. McColley of New Castle County Emergency Medical Services.
County paramedics “coordinated with the area hospitals on transport destinations, as to not overload a single emergency department facility,” McColley said.
Two were in critical condition Sunday night at Christiana Hospital, with 24 more patients there in conditions from good to very serious, according to emergency physician Rob Rosenbaum.
Details of patients’ conditions were not available, said Christiana Care spokesman Hiran Ratnayake.
Other adults were taken to Wilmington and St. Francis hospitals and the Middletown Emergency Department of Christiana Care and two children were taken to Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Rockland.
Injuries varied, including head trauma, neck injuries and cracked ribs, Chistiana Hospital’s Rosenbaum said.
Of the least injured, about five were expected to be released Sunday night at Christiana Hospital, he said. Seven patients from Wilmington Hospital and three from the Middletown ER were released Sunday.
The body of the woman killed in the crash was taken from the scene the state Division of Forensic Sciences for identification and autopsy, Shavack said.
Based on preliminary investigation of the crash, he said, state police had not “heard of any witnesses, except for those on the bus.”
Heavy equipment was brought to the scene Sunday evening to right the wrecked bus, as state police collected passengers’ pocketbooks, bags and suitcases to log and protect them, he said.
Based on preliminary information, police do not believe any other vehicles were involved in the crash.
By 7 p.m., traffic began to move slowly past the area on U.S. 13, but both directions of Del. 1 remained closed.
Both directions of Del. 1 reopened about 10 p.m. Sunday, but the investigation continued around the clock.
Shavack said, “It’s going to be a long night.”