Syracuse, NY – A 66-year-old Syracuse man is in critical condition Monday after crashing into the back of a school bus on the south side of town, police said.
The man, whose name has not been released, was driving a southbound Lexus on Midland Avenue at 3:43 p.m. when he crashed into a North Syracuse Central School District bus, police and witnesses said.
The bus had stopped in front of 3624 Midland Ave. to drop off a student, a neighbor said. The teenager had just gotten off the bus and was standing on a patch of grass when the car crashed into the back of the bus.
“I heard a scream, then a crack,” said Midland Avenue neighbor Jay Rubadeaux, 63.
Several other neighbors also heard brakes screeching and tires screeching on the pavement, then a loud boom. A neighbor said she was sitting on her porch looking at her mail when she saw her 17-year-old neighbor get off the bus moments before the crash. No other children were on the bus at the time.
Neighbors fled their homes running towards the wreckage. They called 911 and described the scene. They saw a car mostly under a school bus, leaking fluid. They saw the bus driver jump out of the bus and they remember the silence inside the car.
At first, no one knew how many people were in the Lexus, or whether the driver was male or female. Neighbors yelled at the driver, “Are you okay? Can you hear me.”
Syracuse firefighters arrived three minutes and 12 seconds after the first 911 call. A firefighter could be seen kneeling next to the car, peering through a broken window. The roof of the Lexus was peeled off and the front of the car remained under the bus.
Firefighters used jacks to lift the bus and reach the driver in the car, witnesses said. They quickly got the 66-year-old out of the car and into a waiting ambulance nearby.
The American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance transported the 66-year-old to Upstate University Hospital, leaving the scene with lights and sirens.
Syracuse police remained at the scene for a few hours. They took pictures and measurements. Detectives are still trying to determine how fast the driver was traveling and what caused the crash, Syracuse Police spokesman Lt. Matthew Malinowski said.
Police were just down the street investigating a shooting outside 2625 Midland Ave. when the accident happened. While investigating the accident, Syracuse firefighters were also notified of a natural gas leak in the 3600 block of Midland Avenue. Firefighters at the scene said the natural gas leak was unrelated to the crash.
Syracuse police said they are continuing to investigate the crash and shooting that took place less than 40 minutes apart on Monday afternoon.
The driver of the car remained in critical condition Monday night, Malinowski said. The bus driver was not injured, he said.
A Big Red tow truck with a boom lifted the school bus from the car shortly after 5 p.m. Both vehicles were then towed off the scene.
Syracuse police are asking anyone with information about the accident to call their traffic division at (315) 442-5130.