An elementary school student died, and five of her classmates including her two sisters remain hospitalized Friday, after a school bus and dump truck collided in Chesterfield, N.J., according to authorities.
The violent crash happened Thursday morning at Bordentown-Chesterfield Road (County Route 528) and Old York Road in Chesterfield, N.J. a little before 8:20 a.m., according to authorities. The school bus was driving students to Chesterfield Elementary School.
The 11-year-old killed in the wreck has been identified as Isabelle Tezsla. She's the daughter of New Jersey State Trooper, Sgt. Anthony Tezsla, as confirmed by police.
Isabelle is a triplet -- and her two sisters were also injured. Sophie and Natalie Tezsla are at Cooper University Hospital, according to hospital officials. One is facing serious injuries and the other minor injuries. Natalie was upgraded to stable condition Friday morning.
Cooper University Hospital is also treating Jonathan Zdybel, 11, in critical condition.
One student remains at Capital Health Regional Medical Center, and another at Robert Wood Johnson hospital. Both of those kids are in stable condition.
There was a total of 25 children on the bus, Kindergarten-age through sixth grade, Chesterfield Township Police Chief Kyle Wilson said in a news conference Thursday. Out of the 25 children, one was killed, 17 were injured and two of those students have life-threatening injuries, Wilson said.
Anthony Varga Jr., 9, was on the bus -- "A couple of them were up and walking, but the kid that was across from me, the kid that lives down the street said he think he broke his leg," said the fourth-grader at Chesterfield Elementary School.
Anthony and his younger brother Matthew were both on the bus, and suffered only minor injuries.
"I had to break my son’s heart and tell him that one of his friends was not going to come to school again, said Lori Varga, mother.
A candlelight vigil was held at the Chesterfield Baptist Church Thursday night to remember Isabelle, and pray for the other victims of the crash.
“She was like my best friend. She was always there for me. She always stuck up for me, whenever there was a problem. She was a good person, ” said Gwyneth Perfect, victim’s friend.
“It’s sobering, it’s devastating. You think of your own kids, " said Edward DeSilva, Chesterfield Baptist Church Pastor.
Though the cause of the accident is still under investigation, Wilson said that the dump truck was traveling on Route 528, which has a flashing yellow light at the intersection, while the school bus was traveling on Old York Road, which has a stop sign and a flashing red light at the intersection. Both roads have a speed limit of 45 miles per hour.
The dump truck, which is owned by Herman's Trucking Co. in Wrightstown, N.J., had the right of way, Wilson said.
The lights at the intersection were functioning, according to Wilson, but it's still not known which vehicle was turning at the time of the crash. The school bus appears to have slid, or was pushed, sideways into a light pole and the dump truck appears to have veered off the road.
Wilson said that both drivers were brought to an area hospital with minor injuries and police have interviewed both.
Though the school was already scheduled to be closed tomorrow for a four-day President's Day weekend holiday, Chesterfield Elementary School officials said the school will be open from 9 a.m. to noon Friday for anyone who needs counseling.
The school bus has "GST" and "Garden State Transport" on it. Garden State Transport, Inc. in Southampton, N.J. had "no comment" when asked about the crash.
Herman's Trucking Company had no comment and gave no immediate details about the wreck.
No charges have been filed, Wilson said.
Gov. Chris Christie released the following statement:
"We are awaiting further details, but we are deeply concerned for the students on the bus and their families and can only imagine what they’ve been dealing with in the immediate aftermath of the crash. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved, especially those who have been injured."
Grief counselors will be on hand at the school from 9a.m. to noon. The school was orginally scheduled to be closed on Friday due to the holiday weekend.
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