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New Smithville, PA Bus Crashes Through Guardrail, July 1970



Allentown, Pa. (UPI) -- A chartered bus carrying school children on a tour of the Pennsylvania Amish country skidded in a rainstorm and rolled over a 50-foot embankment Wednesday, pinning dead and injured in the wreckage.
Seven children were killed and 51 other persons on the bus were injured, police said.
The dead were identified as:
BONNIE EISENBERG, 437 Beach 123rd St., Belle Harbor, N.Y.
NANCY JACOBSON, 1071 Fordham Lane, Woodmere, N.Y.
RANDEE LEWIS, 568 Norman Way, Woodmere, N.Y.
RANDI PRESS, 486 Oxford Road, Cedarhurst, N.Y.
SPENCER JAFFE, 43 Lawrence Avenue, Lawrence, N.Y.
JOHATHAN ELSTEIN, 818 Cornaga Ave., Far Rockaway, N.Y.
LISA GERSTMAN, 43 Cloverdale Rd., Valley Stream, N.Y.
Loaded with children and counselors from the Hillel School, a private Jewish day school in Lawrence, N.Y., the bus skidded on a slight curve on rain-slick U.S. 22, 10 miles west of Allentown.
The bus ripped through guardrails, fell nose first down the hill, flipped over and landed against the stone foundation of an old vacant house, a state trooper said. The roof and the side of the bus were ripped open.
One of the children, DANIEL STEINBERG, 11, of Far Rockaway, N.Y., said the bus went into a spin, "rotating around me."
"It went side to side down the hill," he said, "and when it stopped I looked and saw a little hole to the left of me, a foot wide, and I and about six others crawled through the hole."
Some of the occupants were thrown from the bus and about six persons were pinned beneath it. Others were trapped inside.
"It was a mess," said State Trooper ROBERT CLARSON, one of the first persons at the crash scene. "There were children all over -- in the embankment, in the grass, in the bus."
"They were crying and very upset. Most of them appeared to be in shock."
A dozen motorists and truck drivers stopped to administer first aid, he said. "They tried to comfort the children, to stop the bleeding with towels and blankets."
Anguished parents gathered at the plush school in Lawrence, a wealthy New York City suburb, after they were told about the crash. Many of them just wandered aimlessly through the corridors.
Some set out in cars or on a small commuter airlines flight to get to Allentown. Other parents obtained reservations on two commercial airline flights.
School officials told the parents they would be notified when word of their children was received from Allentown. At least five of the injured were counselors, a spokesman said.
Some of the truckers who stopped at the crash scene brought hydraulic jacks and helped life the wrecked but with cables. Rescue crews then combed through the rubble. Nine ambulances took the dead and injured away.

The Post-Standard Syracuse New York 1970-07-16


Allentown Bus Crash

wow...that was 38 years ago and I'm amazed
to see this posted now in 2008. I am the younger
brother of Nancy Jacobson...My parents are still alive
and they still haven't gotten over their loss. I once heard;
lose a parent, you're an orphan...lose a spouse, you're a widow or widower...
but lose a child... there's no word for that...It's just too awful to have a term!

july 15 1970 bus crash, new smithville PA

I was the only empty seat on that bus, I was home sick with 104 fver...this was THE bus accident that led to improvements in the safety of school busses, such as seat belts...

very true

Hi Peter
Very true. I lived about 6 miles from this accident site when it happened. I was one of the first rescue personnel on the scene. I know I will never forget it.

how things work

It is a wonder, how things happen sometimes. Call it an act of God or twist of fate.

July 15, 1970 bus crash

I looked at the calendar today and can't believe this was 29 years ago. i was in this accident and thankfully came out of it fine. My thoughts and prayers are with those who were not as lucky as I was.

As a family, we are still

As a family, we are still traumatized by the events of this horrible accident that took the life of Bonnie and 6 others.
I am reading about this accident, as I search for information of another bus accident today that happened an hour ago.
When will REAL changes be made on buses so that other families don't have to suffer what we have suffered???

I remember this -having grown up in the 5 towns

I remember hearing the story around the neighborhood when it happened and of course it was on the cover of the newspaper too at the time.
Several classmates of mine were siblings of those killed and I had also heard of some neighbors children that were injured.I will never forget it.
I did not realize it was 29 years ago.
(My brother and some friends of mine went to Hillel but not that year thank God.)
Not much else to say except blessings to all of those that found the strength to go on.

RE: RIP Randee Lewis <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

That happened 40 years ago, and I was not on the bus but I will never forget the day I was told. I was at summer camp and I was told there was a bus crash and my best friend at the time was Randee Lewis. She did not live. I still often wonder why her?
She was a good friend and person.How her family ever went on I do not know but for me it was really hard also. She really made an impact on my life without ever knowing it. I loved her and always think of her still from time to time and wonder how this could have happened. Still we have no seat belts in school buses. Why not is the question. How many children who can not speak for themselves will it take to make this the law? Well Randee you rest in peace my so very sweet friend. You are an angel to me and always will be. I lost my father in 1969 and still find that hard to get over. Never is it over time does not heal it just makes it deeper in your soul. Something you can not explain but for me it never goes away just further back in your recall memory. Little things will always remind of what I had and what I have lost.

A friend of Nancy Jacobson

I have a very strong memory of a girl named Nancy who I had met at Franklin Elementary School the year before the crash. We had just become friends and I looked forward to getting to know her better after the summer break was over. I had been a camper at Hillel the year before but at the last minute decided to spend the summer between Silver Point Beach Club with my folks and at my Aunts house up state. I remember my mother trying to hide the news of the disaster from me. She knew that if I had gone to Hillel that I probably would have been on that bus but mostly she tried to shield me from the fact that I had gone to school with several of the children who had perished. I never saw Nancy after that last day of the school year. For all of these years I have wondered if the Nancy I had met at Franklin Elementary School was Nancy Jacobson. The Nancy I knew for that brief time was a wonderful girl with a huge smile, a great laugh and an amazing twinkle in her eyes. The last time I saw Nancy we were standing on the steps between the side entrance to the school and the play yard. She stood a few steps above me as I looked up at her silhouetted by the sun beaming through the trees behind her, her broad smile and her hearty laugh made me feel good that I had made a friend. We said good bye and each went our separate way. It's been almost 40 years since the accident but her memory is in my mind and my heart as if I had seen her yesterday. I am so sorry that I never got to see Nancy again and that we never got to be better friends.

I remember Nancy and Randee

I lived down the block from Nancy on Fordham Lane and also attended Franklin Elementary School. I was 11 years old on July 15, 1970 when my mom told me about the accident. Another good friend of mine, Missy Sher, was in a body cast for 6 months from this accident and also lived on Fordham Lane.

I also remember Randee who attended Cong. Sons of Israel religious school with me.

Even 40 years after this accident, I always think about these very young girls and what a sad, sad loss this was. They may be gone but they aren't forgotten.

article | by Dr. Radut