Farmingdale Bus Accident
Sahar Ali, Javier Cael, and Navrosedip Kundlas
Volume 4 Issue 1
November 6, 2023
Image Provided by ABC7 New York
WAWAYANDA, NEW YORK - On September 21st, one of six buses from Farmingdale High School, located in Long Island, was involved in a deadly accident. The bus, carrying teachers and students including the color guard, dancers, and members of the Farmingdale marching band, went through a guard rail and toppled into a ravine in Wawayanda, New York, killing two and leaving many injured.
The accident took place after 1 p.m. on Interstate 84. Six buses from Farmingdale High School embarked on their journey to the Pine Forest Camp, located in Greeley, Pennsylvania, for a band camping event. However, one of the coach buses ended up losing control, causing a catastrophic accident. According to Gov. Kathy Hochul, the bus landed on its side 50 feet in some trees and bushes. The crash took the lives of two teachers: Gina Pellettiere, 43, and Beatrice Ferrari, 77. Pellettiere was Farmingdale High School’s band director and Ferrari was a retired teacher. The crash also left 18 people, including 2 adults and 16 students, hospitalized.
THE LAWSUIT The parents of a student who was injured in the crash filed a lawsuit against Lisa Schaffer, the driver of the bus involved in the crash, and Regency Transportation Ltd., the bus company. The lawsuit accuses Schaffer of negligence; it also claims that she did not control the vehicle and drove at speeds that could have possibly led her to veer off the road. Additionally, the lawsuit asserts that Regency Transportation did not maintain, repair, and inspect their buses in a proper manner, leaving them in an “unsafe, defective and/or hazardous condition.” The New York State Department of Transportation also found that Regency Transportation had failed 5 out of 10 safety inspections during the 2023 fiscal year. Andrew Finkelstein, the attorney of the family that filed the lawsuit says, “This lawsuit is the first step in holding the bus company and their driver accountable for a crash that never should’ve happened and resulted in significant and serious injuries not just to my client, but to every passenger on that bus.”
SUPPORT FOR FARMINDALE HIGH SCHOOL
In order to provide support for the Farmingdale High School community, North High School’s music department started a fundraiser selling “music notes,” which were paper cut outs of a quarter note. Students could purchase these music notes for one dollar, write a heartfelt message for the Farmingdale community along with their name, and tape their notes on a wall in the cafeteria. The fundraiser ended up raising 700 dollars. North High School’s marching band also dedicated their first performance on the field to the Farmingdale High School community.
CONNECTIONS WITH THE BAND DIRECTOR
Gina Pellettiere, often described as an “inspiring figure,” was known for her fun-loving and community-oriented spirit, leaving an indelible mark on the world of music and bands. For those fortunate enough to know her, the band felt like a family, fostering a supportive and positive atmosphere that created a safe space for everyone involved. Her impact as an energetic and passionate musician and teacher was truly inspiring. Mr. Malizia, a former student, and North’s newest band teacher, recalls his happiest memory with Pellettiere involving playing in the pit orchestra, where she played the trumpet with enthusiasm. They shared laughter over McDonald’s nuggets, indulging in a nugget fight and discovering a lone, rock-solid chicken nugget. Band camp was filled with memorable moments, from belting out bridge solos to Christmas karaoke duets. What inspired Mr. Malizia most about Pellettiere was the profound relationship she had with her students and her unwavering passion for their success. Her dedication to music and the vibrant community she built served as a beacon for Mr. Malizia’s own journey to become a music teacher. In the realm of music and band, Pellettiere’s work was marked by a blend of professionalism and humor. She occasionally delayed practice with questions like whether to eat a muffin with a hand or fork, and she’d provide weather updates, adding her unique charm to every rehearsal.