North Brunswick, NJ Truck And Bus Collision, Oct 1959
9 COEDS, TEACHER DIE IN TRUCK - BUS CRASH.
GIRLS TRAPPED BY FLAMES, JAM AT DOOR.
TRUCKER HAS RECORD AS SPEEDER.
North Brunswick, N.J. (AP) -- A big tank truck tore into a bus loaded with college coeds at a rainswept crossroads Friday. Nine girls and a professor died in the holocaust.
The bus was one of two headed back to Trenton State College after a night on the town -- an outing to a Broadway play in New York.
The collision trapped the screaming students and turned the outing into a nightmare. Girls tumbled out of the bus, their dresses and hair aflame. Some panicked. The driver had to throw some out on the road.
Eleven girls and the driver of the truck were injured.
The truck was an empty paint and oil delivery vehicle.
It ignited from the burning gasoline spewed across the road. The driver ROSCOE POE, 54, of Brooklyn, N.Y., faces a mandatory charge of causing death by auto.
Flames 20 to 30 feet high swept the chartered bus. "It was damn near a miracle to get any of them out," the driver said.
Among the charred remains of carefully saved theater programs and ticket stubs, firemen found 10 bodies. One of them was that of PROF. ERNEST SIXTA, 40, the president of the Faculty Assn.
"Don't panic, don't panic," the history professor had called out.
But, said bus driver CARMEN NINI, 40, of Trenton,
"the kids got panicky and jammed up at the front door."
It took eight hours for state police and college authorities to check the identities of the 10 badly burned bodies. Forty girls, the professor and driver were on the ill-fated bus, and 44 on the bus ahead.
The two buses were headed for the Trenton campus along U.S. Rt. 1. They were just outside New Brunswick, about 40 miles southwest of New York and about 20 miles from the college.
Opposite the farm of the Rutgers University Agricultural College, a traffic light swung in the mist.
The first bus rolled through while the light was amber. The second bus slowed to a halt.
The truck rolled down the rain-swept highway and plowed into the rear of the bus at about 35 miles an hour. The bus was knocked into the other lane and its gas tank exploded.
"It was a big inferno," said one fireman. "It looked like a 500-pound bomb had hit the bus."
NINI, called the hero of the fire, told how he had to shove panic-stricken girls out of the flaming bus:
"I opened the door and shoved a pack of them as hard as I could and they sprawled out."
"Then I picked a couple of them off the floor of the bus and shoved them out into the road. I jumped out myself, but then I saw some more girls in the back of the bus. I pushed past some of the girls who were on their way out and got to the emergency door and shoved it open."
"I had to shove some more kids out of the emergency door. When they were out, I jumped out out of the emergency door myself."
"I saw another girl trying to squeeze out of a window. She was about halfway out. I grabbed her shoulders and somebody else helped and we pulled her out."
The play the students had just seen was "J.B." -- the prize winning modernization of the Biblical tale of Job, whose faith in God is tested through the loss of his children, disease and afflictions.
Partial List Of Killed and Injured
PROF. ERNEST SIXTA, 40, Faculty Assn. president.
DOROTHY PINCHAK, 18, Paterson, N.J.
YOLANDA BENSON, 19, Freehold, N.J.
JUDY TETTEMENTI, 18, Phillipsburg, N.J.
JANE McCORMACK, 18, Middletown, N.J.
LINDA MOLLOV, 17, West Orange, N.J., critical condition with severe burns.
The Post Standard Syracuse New York 1959-10-10