‘So Grateful’: Farmingdale Junior Injured In Deadly Bus Crash Reunites With Surgeons, Medics

Audrina Crocitto doesn’t remember much about the charter bus crash that killed her band director and a retired teacher, and injured dozens of her fellow marching band students.

Farmingdale High School junior Audrina Crocitto, age 15, reunited with surgeons and medics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park on Wednesday, Oct. 25. 

Farmingdale High School junior Audrina Crocitto, age 15, reunited with surgeons and medics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park on Wednesday, Oct. 25. 

Photo Credit: Northwell Health


Photo Credit: O’Halloran
Audrina Crocitto

Audrina Crocitto

Photo Credit: O’Halloran


Photo Credit: Eastern Dutchess County Fire and Rescue/Orange and Rockland County Fire

The 15-year-old Farmingdale High School student on Long Island only remembers the initial impact of the bus careening off of I-84 in Orange County, in the town of Wawayanda, before it rolled several times down an embankment Thursday, Sept. 21.

Following the crash, Crocitto was airlifted to Cohen Children’s Medical Center, where X-rays and MRIs revealed that titanium screws and rods would be needed to hold her spine together.

She had suffered multiple fractures to her neck and spine and had cuts all over her body.

After a three-hour surgery, the high school junior remained in the hospital for more than a week. Doctors believe she will make a full recovery.

On Wednesday, Oct. 25, more than a month after the devastating crash made national headlines, the aspiring firefighter returned to the hospital for an emotional reunion with the surgeons and medics who cared for her that day.

The teen was seen walking without assistance, with her family by her side.

Among those in attendance were flight paramedic Amen Alhadi and flight nurse Michael Bosi, the SkyHealth team who airlifted Crocitto to the hospital.

“It’s not often to get to meet one of the patients we’ve brought to the hospital,” Bosi said. "We’re so happy that you’re doing well and hopeful that you will continue with your dream of becoming an EMT.”

Crocitto teared up as she told those in attendance that she and the other injured students continue to fight on in memory of their late band director, 43-year-old Gina Pellettiere, of Massapequa.

“I’ve come a long way and there’s still a long way to go,” she said. “We know Mrs. P would want us to keep trying to get better. I’m here today because of my friends and my family. I will get through this. I’m strong now.”

Her mother then gave a green “Daler Strong” t-shirt to the flight crew and to Dr. Shaun Rodgers.

Crocitto said going through such a traumatic experience changed her outlook on life.

“I realize now how many people love me,” she said. “I’m so grateful to be here.”

Catherine O’Halloran, who organized a fundraiser for the teen’s medical bills, described her as “an exceptional kid” and aspiring firefighter who spends her time as a member of the Farmingdale Fire Department’s junior brigade. 

Crocitto hopes to become a full-time firefighter and EMT someday. 

Firefighting apparently runs in her genes as her older sister is a “dedicated” member and captain of the Hicksville Fire Department, and her grandfather is a retired fire captain with the same department.

“They are a family of service, always willing to run out the door to help everyone else’s family and complete strangers,” O’Halloran said.

Those who wish to support the fundraiser for Crocitto can do so here.

The charter bus crash injured at least 43 students and also killed retired social studies teacher Beatrice Ferrari, age 77.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are working to determine what caused the crash. A preliminary investigation by State Police pointed to a faulty front tire.

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