Bus Crash: Nesconset Charter Company Has 'Satisfactory' Safety Record, But It's Not Perfect

The New York charter bus company involved in a deadly highway crash that killed two educators and left dozens of high school band students hospitalized holds a “satisfactory” safety rating, though records show nearly two dozen maintenance violations in recent years.

Regency Charter Buses

Regency Charter Buses

Photo Credit: Facebook/Regency Charter Buses

A check of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) website shows that Regency Charter Buses, based in Suffolk County in Nesconset, was involved in one injury crash in the past two years. Records do not specify who was at fault.

The company was given a “satisfactory” safety rating in March 2019, though records reveal 23 maintenance violations over the past two years.

Of those documented since September 2021, the most serious were inoperable brake lights and headlights, considered a 6 on a severity scale of 1 to 10, where a 10 represents the highest crash risk.

Inspectors noted two instances of buses “not equipped with anti-lock braking system malfunction circuit or signal,” as well as one brake violation, both considered a 4 on the severity scale.

The company was also dinged for five oil and/or grease leaks, four inoperable lights, two instances of missing or inadequate emergency exit markings, and two defective windshield wipers.

According to the report, Regency Charter Buses operates eight buses and employs 14 drivers.

The New York State Department of Transportation said in a statement Regency has valid operating authority and a valid semi-annual inspection, and the driver was properly licensed.

Thursday’s crash in Orange County happened at around 1:10 p.m. on I-84 in the town of Wawayanda, near Exit 15.

Six charter buses were carrying marching band members from Farmingdale High School, in Nassau County on Long Island, to Greeley, Pennsylvania for band camp when one of the vehicles went through the wire barrier and slid down the 50-foot embankment.

The crash injured at least 43 students and killed the school's band director, 43-year-old Gina Pellettiere, of Massapequa, and retired social studies teacher Beatrice Ferrari, age 77.

Pellettiere was pronounced dead at the scene, and Ferrari later died at Westchester Medical Center. 

Twenty-two students had been discharged from the hospital as of Friday afternoon and five students remained in critical condition. 

Three of the most seriously injured were being treated at Westchester Medical Center, which has the best trauma unit in the Hudson Valley.

Troopers said a preliminary investigation found that a faulty front tire may have caused the driver to lose control and roll down the embankment.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were expected to be at the crash site later Friday.

State Police are asking anyone who witnessed the crash or has dashcam video to contact the agency at 845-344-5300.

Farmingdale Union Free School District Superintendent Paul Defendini issued the following statement to parents:

"It is difficult to express the sadness and grief that the Farmingdale School District and I feel over the tragic events that unfolded earlier and the horrific experience our students endured. We deeply mourn the passing of our inspiring faculty and Band Director, Gina Pellittiere, and the heart and soul of our marching band program, Beatrice ‘Bea’ Ferarri.”

This continues to be a developing story. Check back to Daily Voice for updates.

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