Bus Carrying Canadian Dance Group Hits Scaffold Near Lincoln Tunnel
HELL'S KITCHEN — A Canadian charter bus carrying a group of young performers in town for a dance competition hit a pothole and careened into a Hell's Kitchen scaffold Thursday morning, riders and officials said.
The Optimum Rides bus was carrying a group of dancers from New Brunswick's Dance Zone Studio when it crashed into scaffolding at a West 41st Street building, near 10th Avenue, about 8:10 a.m., city and company officials said.
The group, made up of young dancers, parents and coaches, had been in town since Tuesday and was en route to Carlo's Bakery from the TLC show "Cake Boss" ahead of their Friday competition at the Tremaine dance convention being held at the Grand Hyatt hotel on 42nd St., riders said.
"Everything was going along fine and we turned a corner and it felt like the bus went into a big pothole," said Maureen Pappas, 46, who was with her 14-year-old daughter.
"I think something broke at the front of the bus. It seemed like we lost control and just slammed into the building and the scaffolding. The glass was breaking. It just happened quickly."
The long blue bars of scaffolding tumbled around the bus as it crashed, witnesses outside said.
"I was under the scaffolding. The bus hit a bump, jumped the curb and the scaffolding started falling like dominoes. I just heard screams," said Vinneca Antoine, 20, who had been walking nearby.
Inside the bus was pandemonium, riders said.
"There was a lot of screaming and crying and people wanting to get off the bus, but we couldn't get off because the scaffolding had collapsed around us," said Lisa Harrity, 40, the mother of a 16-year-old dancer.
"People were checking on others because we're here with a lot of children," Harrity added.
Optimum staff said that the seven-year veteran driver lost control of the bus after hitting a pothole.
"There was a pothole involved. The vehicle jumped [and] went out of control," said Optimum Rides director of operations, Kim Keith.
"I'm working with the driver right now to get a complete sense of what happened."
Two people were taken to St. Luke's hospital for treatment of minor injuries, an FDNY spokesman said.
Five other people refused medical attention while at least 30 more were being evaluated at the scene, he added. It was not immediately clear who among them was on the bus or the sidewalk at the time of the crash.
The driver, whose name was not released, has worked with Optimum since 2007 and has "a very clean driving record," Keith said.
Police did not suspect any criminality was involved in the crash.
The Department of Buildings was investigating.
It was not immediately clear if the Dance Zone performers would still attend the Tremaine convention Friday after the jarring accident.
"We'll play it by ear and see how everything goes," Harrity added.
"But the show must go on."