Tour Bus Crash

July 19, 2011 Updated Jul 19, 2011 at 7:45 AM EDT

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July 19, 2011 Updated Jul 19, 2011 at 7:45 AM EDT

CANANDAIGUA, NY (press release) - New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico and New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald today announced preliminary results from a fatal commercial bus accident the Town of Avoca, Steuben County, which has claimed the lives of two people.

At 4:16 PM on July 17, 2011, a commercial tour bus, operated by Bedore Tours out of North Tonawanda, NY, carrying 36 passengers, plus the driver, left the right northbound shoulder of I-390, and proceeded down an embankment into a wooded area, crashing into several trees before overturning.

There was one fatality at the scene and the remaining 36 passengers were transported to six area hospitals, with the most critical airlifted to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. One of the passengers subsequently died at Noyes Hospital in Dansville, NY. Twenty passengers remain hospitalized. The most serious are four passengers which remain in guarded condition at Strong Memorial Hospital.

The deceased have been identified as Shail Khanna, age 66, and Sakina Kiazar, age 52, both are from the Republic of India.

The driver of the bus is a 58-year-old male from Rochester, NY. He holds a valid CDL license with no violations noted on his driver's history. He has no criminal history.

Thebus was operated by Bedore Tours, 2968 Niagara Falls Blvd. North Tonawanda, NY. Bedore Tours picked up this group of passengers on Saturday, July 16th and transported them from New York City to Washington D.C. They departed Washington D.C. on July 17th, 2011 around 9:00am and were en route to Niagara Falls when the accident happened.

The initial findings of the New York State Police Accident Reconstruction Unit and the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit support the belief that the accident occurred as a result of tire failure. Investigators are looking at any and all factors that may have contributed to the accident. The engine control module will be downloaded in an attempt to gain additional information on vehicle speed and braking.

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said, "Commercial Bus Enforcement and maintaining bus passenger safety remains a priority for the New York State Police. We are committed to keeping New York's roadways safe by aggressively enforcing the Vehicle and Traffic Laws." Troopers have also continued enforcement efforts directed toward moving traffic violations with special attention to motor coach activity, with a total of 446 tickets issued by troopers since the beginning of the year.

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said: "Safety is our top priority here at DOT. We have a rigorous Motor Carrier Safety program which includes vehicle safety inspections and post-crash investigations. We will be working closely with the State Police, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and state Department of Motor Vehicles to find out as much as we can about this crash. I extend my deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones in this accident, and hope for a speedy recovery for the injured."

The National Transportation Safety Board and NYS Dept. of Transportation were both notified of the accident. The bus was transported to Troop E HQ in Canandaigua, NY for further examinations.

New York State Department of Transportation commercial vehicle safety inspectors will continue to inspect drivers and vehicles at origin and destination locations common for commercial bus operators throughout New York State to ensure driver and vehicle compliance with state and federal laws.

The bus owned by Bedore Tours from North Tonawanda, NY left Washington D.C. early this morning, then stopped in Williamsport, PA for lunch. The bus left Pennsylvania at approximately 2:15pm heading towards Niagara Falls, NY.

The Bath Ambulance and Fire Department, Avoca Ambulance and Fire Department, Steuben County Sheriff's Department, Rural Metro Ambulance and the Steuben County Office of Emergency Management assisted on scene.

The Red Cross has also been activated and are assisting State Police and family members of the injured.

The investigation is continuing.