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31 People Injured in Harlem Bus Crash

By Trevor Kapp | June 26, 2012 5:47pm
A passenger was rescued from an MTA bus in Harlem on June 26, 2012.
A passenger was rescued from an MTA bus in Harlem on June 26, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Paul Lomax

HARLEM — Thirty-one people were hurt Tuesday, including nine children, in a Harlem collision that included a bus, a delivery truck and a gas tanker, according to the FDNY.

The accident, which did not result in any life-threatening injuries, occurred when the delivery truck tried to squeeze between the tanker and the MTA bus at Fifth Avenue and East 125th Street, FDNY Deputy Chief John Sullivan said.

The tanker was filled with gasoline, Sullivan said, but there was no danger of a leak.

"Anytime you've got gasoline involved, it could be a big accident," Sullivan said. "But luckily there was not that much damage to the tanker truck."

All of the 31 injured were on the bus, Sullivan said. Two people refused aid and the rest were taken to Harlem, Metropolitan and New York hospitals. Two of the people taken to Harlem Hospital had skeletal injuries, FDNY officials said.

Jimmy McMillian, 12, was sitting in the back of the bus with his sister when the accident occurred. He looked out the window, he said, and saw the back of the white food delivery truck peeled off.

"People were scared and yelling and asking what happened," McMillian said. "There were three people on the floor. They were staying still. Then after three to four minutes, they tried to move their legs, but people were saying, 'Stay still. Just relax.'''

Another witness, 39-year-old Maria Ayala, said she was about to step on the bus when the accident happened.

"It was kind of chaos," Ayala said. "A woman got on before I did. She was swinging back and forth, then she fell down."

The driver of the truck, who identified himself only as "Ben," said the oil tanker was at fault and that he was hit from behind.

"The gas truck was driving too fast," said Ben, who added that he planned to go to the hospital after the ordeal. "How did I squeeze between them? He hit me in the corner. If I would've tried to squeeze in between, he would've sideswiped me."

But a witness at the scene said the white truck didn't stop as it tried to make its way between the other vehicles, and the truck made a loud shriek as it became sandwiched.

"It sounded like someone was tearing down the whole block," said Oral Luke, 47, who was walking down the block at the time the accident occurred. "The bus was rocking. The way it was rocking, I thought it was gonna explode."