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Accident Report Detail

​Penn Central Freight Train / Schoolbus Collision

Executive Summary

At about 7:55 a.m., on Friday, March 24, 1972, an eastbound schoolbus was driven across a grade crossing on Gilchrist road, near Congers, NY, and was struck by the lead locomotive of a northbound Penn Central freight train. Except for a stop sign, at which the bus driver failed to stop, and a standard railroad-crossing sign, the crossing was not specially protected. After impact the schoolbus was driven 1,116 feet down the track by the train, and the body structure of the bus disintegrated. The rear section of the bus was torn loose, fell beside the track, and overturned with a number of students underneath. Two of the several students who were ejected from the remaining portion of the bus passed through separated floor sections and fell between the rails into the path of the train. As a result of the accident five students died, and the bus driver and all 44 remaining students were injured. None of the train crew was injured.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the cause of this accident was the failure of the schoolbus driver to stop at the stop sign until the crossing was clear of railroad traffic. Contributing to the accident was the unnecessary routing of the schoolbus over a not specially protected railroad/highway grade crossing.

Accident Location: Congers , NY    
Accident Date: 3/24/1972
Accident ID: 79801

Date Adopted: 3/21/1973
NTSB Number: RHR7301
NTIS Number: PB-221137

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