A man died and 24 people were hospitalized after a tour bus from Canada and a tractor-trailer collided and then burst into flames on the New York State Thruway early Friday.
State police told NBC-affiliate WHEC-TV that the 59-year-old driver of the tractor-trailer had died following the accident, which happened near the Waterloo Outlet Mall in the town of Junius, at around 1:30 a.m.
A soldier from nearby Fort Drum Army base is credited with saving the lives of passengers, according to The serviceman had been driving behind the bus and pulled over to help, pulling people out from the burning wreckage, authorities said.
WHEC-TV said the bus, which was carrying 53 people, was coming from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on the way to New York City.
Officials at Strong Hospital told the station one person was taken there by Mercy Flight and five victims arrived by vehicles; 13 were taken to Geneva General Hospital with minor injuries and another five were taken to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.
State police also said some people were transported by their own means.
Police told WHEC-TV that the bus was having mechanical difficulties and may have been pulling back onto the thruway from the shoulder of the road when the tractor-trailer collided with it.
The Post-Sentinel of Syracuse quoted state police Sgt. Thomas Burroughs that it appeared that tractor-trailer and tour bus "both went up in flames."
Both vehicles were destroyed in the fire and it was not possible to determine the names of the bus and trucking companies, the paper said.
The Thruway was shut down in both directions between the Geneva and Waterloo exits, but the westbound side reopened at about 5 a.m., The Post-Sentinel said.