MADISON -- Four people remain in critical condition Tuesday after a bus rolled over Tuesday on I-95 north in Madison.
The crash injured nearly two dozen of the 55 people who were on the bus heading from Flushing in Queens, New York to Mohegan Sun Casino. Thirty were able to walk off, but the rest were transported to area hospitals.
Officials from Yale-New Haven Hospital said Tuesday morning that most people suffered injuries to the neck area.They said the patients were in critical but not grave condition, and that that was all thanks to the quick response by volunteer fire and rescue departments.
Madison Fire Chief Bobby Kyttle, the incident commander for the crash response, says his department practices approximately every six months for mass-casualty events like this, so each firefighter on the scene knew his responsibility immediately upon arrival.
"Some guys, right away, stabilized the bus, while other guys were checking the people that were out of the bus," said Kyttle, who has been the Madison Fire chief for about four years.
He said that his crew had to break some windows and climb inside the bus, which is operated by Dahlia Tours out of New York City.
"Each person was just being carried out one by one, assessed by the paramedics on scene and taken to the appropriate destination from there."
Connecticut State Police trooper, Kelly Grant, says that, while the accident is still under investigation, it's safe to say that it occurred, in part, due to the snowy conditions. Grant says the bus driver told police "they were merging or changing lanes, from the left lane to the right lane when the vehicle or the bus kind of lost control on the slippery conditions and struck the guard rail."
The accident happened near exit 61 just before 12:30 p.m. The charter bus rolled on side, shutting down the highway. Multiple ambulances were called to the scene to transport those with injuries to surrounding hospitals. State Police accident reconstruction is assisting with the investigation, with help from Madison, Chester, Old Saybrook, Guilford, Essex, Westbrook, Killingly, Deep River, Old Lyme and Lyme.
Yale-New Haven Hospital admitted 22 patients following the crash and, as of Tuesday afternoon, approximately half of the patients remained in their care, including four in critical condition. All expected to survive. The Shoreline Medical Center also received four patients and the Yale-New Haven Saint Raphael campus received one patient. Six of the patients taken to Yale-New Haven were first transported to Middlesex Hospital before being transferred.
A number of injuries sustained by the passengers are thoracic--or related to the mid- to upper-back in nature according to Dr. Kimberly Davis, the head trauma surgeon for Yale-New Haven Hospital. She also said chest and lung injuries and rib fractures are some of the injuries these patients are being treated for.
One obstacle that arose for first responders and hospital staff was a language-barrier. Fortunately, State Police have troopers that are fluent in the various Asian languages that the passengers spoke.
"Chinese, Korean. One is certified by the FBI in several dialects of Chinese," according to Grant.
According to Mohegan Sun, the bus was a Dahlia Inc. charter operated by VMC East Coast Travel from NYC to Mohegan Sun. No other vehicles were involved in the accident.
The Madison accident occurred 13 years to the day after a Dahlia tour bus, en route to Atlantic City, crashed killing two and injuring dozens.