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Tour bus company says driver saved lives - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Tour bus company says driver saved lives

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WEST HAVEN, V.t. -

Broken glass, flood strewn about, and what appears to be a blood-soaked shirt, are just a few of the items left on the tour bus after the deadly crash. Thirty two people set off on a ski trip from New Jersey that dramatically came to an end Friday night, well before they got to their skiing destination.

People passing by the wreckage Saturday, at a garage in nearby Fair Haven, could not help to stop and take photos of the destruction.

Young Dylan Blackmer of Fair Haven commented, "That looks pretty scary, I would not want to be near the accident when it happened."

Vermont State police were called to the crash on Route 22a in West Haven around 8 o'clock Friday night. Police say the bus crashed into a jackknifed tractor trailer unit that the experienced driver was unable to avoid.

"The roads became very slick, very quickly, most unexpected," said Lt. James Cruise of the Vermont State Police."

Police say drugs and alcohol and excessive speed do not appear to be factors. Tragically it claimed the life of the bus's driver, 59-year-old Darnell Hannah of New Jersey. According to the bus company, Triple D Travel, Hannah saved lives.

"Based on varied accounts, his skilled bus operation prevented serious injury to many of his bus passengers as he faced a 53 foot tractor trailer blocking the entire roadway," said Thomas Fay of Triple D Travel.

"He was bad, he was pinned in there pretty bad," said Chris Sheldrick, he recovered the vehicles at the scene.

Dozens of people including the driver of the tractor trailer were transported to the hospital. According to police everyone has been treated and released, some with fractures. Police say the quick response for this type of mass casualty situation went really well considering extent of the damage.

"It was very impressive to be a part of, These agencies jumping into their roles so fluidly in a mass casualty situation," said Lt. Cruise.

The crew who moved the vehicles say the truck was transporting K cup products. At the front of the bus, debris like computer equipment and coffee packaging. Those who recovered the tractor trailer say coffee was being carried by the tractor trailer.

Laura Zsido of Fair Haven said, "It's just too bad that something like this had to happen."

A weekend that was gearing up to be a fun get-away in Vermont that was cut short.

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