A tour bus with 53 passengers on board crashed down an exit ramp embankment into a parking lot. At least 23 people were injured, authorities said.
The accident about 7 miles west of Atlantic City happened shortly before 11 p.m. EST at a ramp off of Garden State Parkway, police said.
The southbound Academy Bus Lines bus failed to stop at the bottom of the exit ramp and continued across a street, down an embankment and into a shopping plaza parking lot 25 feet below.
“It’s possible it was mechanical failure. That’s what we’re leaning toward,” said Lt. Ted Kammer, spokesman for the Egg Harbor Township Police Department.
One person may have been seriously injured, Kammer said. He described most of the injured as “walking wounded,” with cuts and bruises.
The injured were taken to three area hospitals: Shore Memorial in Somers Point and divisions of AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City and Pomona.
Six people were taken to AtlantiCare’s Atlantic City division with non-life-threatening injuries, a nursing supervisor said. The Pomono division was treating seven people for cuts and bruises and holding 10 others for observation, a nursing supervisor said. A message left at Shore Memorial was not immediately returned.
Two school buses arrived at the scene of the accident around 12:30 a.m. Friday and picked up passengers who appeared uninjured.
‘I thought we all had bought the farm’
A passenger, Nicole Turner, 29, of New York, said the bus had come from the Port Authority Terminal in New York and was bound for the Sands Casino in Atlantic City.
Turner said the driver got off the Parkway after a passenger told him he missed the exit for Atlantic City. Turner, wearing a neck brace, said the driver lost control on the ramp and the bus flipped and landed on its wheels.
“It was scary. I was like, Jesus, Jesus help me,” Turner said.
Mitch Kaplan, 54, of New York, said there was a lot of screaming inside the bus.
“I was dozing, then I heard people yelling, and the next thing I know I’m upside down,” he said. “I thought we all had bought the farm,” he said.
Police said the driver, Rory Youman, 40, of New York, was uninjured and he has not been charged with a crime, but an investigation was under way. Kammer said authorities do not believe alcohol was a factor.