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One Quebecer dead as bus rolls over in New York

By: The Canadian Press, The Associated Press

 | Jul 18, 2014 - 3:17 PM |
A Canadian tour bus carrying 54 people from Quebec City to New York City rests on its side after rolling over on the Northway in the Adirondacks in Essex County, N.Y., Friday, July 18, 2014. New York state police spokeswoman Darcy Wells had no word on possible injuries or deaths. (AP Photo/Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Catherine Moore)

A Canadian tour bus carrying 54 people from Quebec City to New York City rests on its side after rolling over on the Northway in the Adirondacks in Essex County, N.Y., Friday, July 18, 2014. New York state police spokeswoman Darcy Wells had no word on possible injuries or deaths. (AP Photo/Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Catherine Moore)

NORTH HUDSON, N.Y. - A would-be fun-filled weekend in New York City for more than 50 Quebecers turned tragic Friday when their tour bus rolled over in upstate New York, killing one teenage girl and injuring many other passengers.

Authorities said the girl died after becoming trapped underneath the bus, which broke through a guard rail, fell on its side and slid down a grassy hill.

The Quebec teen was partially ejected from the bus and pinned underneath, said state police Maj. Richard Smith. She had been travelling with her mother on the bus from Trois-Rivieres, about halfway between Montreal and Quebec City.

The accident occurred on Interstate 87, also known as the Adirondack Northway.

Smith said the injuries among the other passengers included broken bones and cuts. None appeared to be life-threatening. All passengers — aged six to 54 — were taken to hospital.

There was no apparent sign the 61-year-old driver skidded before the accident.

The cause remains under investigation.

The bus was travelling south from Quebec City when the accident occurred between exits 29 and 30 in North Hudson, about 200 kilometres south of Montreal.

Don Jaquish, emergency services director in Essex county, told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that several people trapped inside the bus had to be removed by emergency personnel.

"I'm sure a lot of them crawled through the top hatches because the bus was on its side," he said.

Jaquish said the bus was filled with college-age students and their relatives.

Members of the RCMP and Quebec provincial police were dispatched to provide assistance and help translate for the largely French-speaking group.

Neither tour operator JaimonVoyage.com nor bus company Autobus Fleur de Lys knew exactly how the accident occurred.

The tour operator's customer care director said the bus driver was experienced and "knows the route by heart."

Josiane Grimard said the company ferries customers between Quebec and New York City every weekend in the summer, so the driver was used to the trip.

"He's a man of experience, all of our drivers are experienced drivers," she said.

Georges Morissette, president of Autobus Fleur de Lys, based near Quebec City, said in a statement the driver has nearly 30 years experience and an impeccable driving record.

He has worked for Autobus Fleur de Lys since April 2012 and was getting back on the road after seven days off.

Morissette said he spoke briefly with the driver as he sat in the back of a police cruiser and said the driver was distraught with what had occurred.

The driver had originally been scheduled to be on vacation, but came into do a route he knows well as a favour to the company, Morissette said.

The vehicle involved is a Prevost luxury bus with a maximum capacity of 56 passengers.

"It was in perfect mechanical condition and had undergone a periodic inspection that confirmed it conformed with company standards and Quebec regulations," Morissette said.

JaimonVoyage.com marketing director Nancy Trudel said the bus picked up travellers in Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres and Longueuil overnight before embarking for New York City.

Trudel said company owner Andre Poulin was en route to the accident site to help the passengers and provide any support he can.

"For us, our priority is the passengers," Trudel said. "But we don't know what happened or how the accident occurred."

Grimard said another bus was being sent to New York to pick up those passengers who weren't as seriously hurt.

"We want them back in Quebec as soon as possible to be with their families," Grimard said.

Motorists were being asked to avoid the area, which was closed down after the accident.

— Written by Sidhartha Banerjee and Peter Rakobowchuk in Montreal

— With files from The Associated Press

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