WAYNE, New Jersey:
Officials said yesterday that 19 of 57 passengers, primarily Grenadians, on a tour bus from Canada bound for New York City have been critically injured when the bus flipped over on a highway and skidded down an embankment.
Officials said the bus flipped onto its side at an Interstate 80 exit ramp about 25 kilometres northwest of New York City. Eight passengers remained in critical condition at St Joseph's Regional Medical Center, officials said.
saddened and disappointed
"We are so saddened and disappointed," Maureen Isaac, secretary of the Grenada-New York Adventist Organisation in Toronto told reporters in Brooklyn, New York.
"Two buses of people were coming from Toronto, but they never arrived," she added, disclosing that the bus was hired from the Toronto-based Max 2000 Charter Services Inc.
Isaac said convention organisers were anticipating over 100 Seventh-day Adventists from three Toronto churches, including the Toronto Central Adventist Church and the Grenada Toronto Community Network (GTCN).
She said the buses left Toronto early Saturday morning heading for the 2012 Grenada-New York Adventist Organisation convention at George Wingate High School in Brooklyn.
"Many of those coming down have relatives or siblings here," she said. "We will be praying for their speedy recovery."
Isaac said about 700 Adventists from around the world attend the annual one-day convention and that most usually stay for the long holiday weekend, returning to Toronto on Monday.
Sergeant Jeff Long, of the New Jersey State Police, told reporters that the bus driver, who suffered a gash to his arm, said he was cut off by another vehicle.
Long said the crash caused some of the bus windows to smash, with three people pinned by window frames before being freed.
"It was so sudden," said Deanne Joseph, a passenger and GTCN member. "I was sitting on the fifth row on the left side when it went around the corner and just lost control."
GTCN member Layne Chitan said the convention united his compatriots in aiding their homeland.
"Every year, we come together as Grenadians to help our country," he said. "It's so unfortunate that we're coming to serve our people and this is what happens."