Shock and grief followed the tragic and unexpected bus crash which killed two and left dozens injured late last month. The charter bus, carrying 40 students and 4 adults, was one of six in an entourage carrying marching band, color guard and dance team members from Farmingdale High School to Pine Forest Camp in northeast Pennsylvania. An accident sent the bus careening down a ravine, initially hospitalizing 18 people, including 16 students and two adults.
State police are pleased to note the continued improved condition of those five Farmingdale High School students who had been hospitalized at Westchester Medical Center. The students have been moved to a less critical care unit, with at least two listed in good condition. According to the school’s Superintendent Paul Defendini, they are all expected to make a full recovery.
In a statement to the community, Defendini addressed changes taking place in the community to honor the victims, including Bea Ferrari and Gina Pellettiere, both of whom passed away in the crash. “For as long as we need counseling services, we will have a fully staffed counseling center available to our students at Farmingdale High School,” he said. “Any student who is struggling is welcome to utilize this service at any time during the school day. This area will be staffed with trained professionals from the Red Cross, YES Community Counseling Center, Family of Kidz, and other licensed clinicians from our area. Please know that our other schools will also be prepared to support our students with our own support staff.” Additional counseling services are also being provided at Howitt Middle School.
Of the deceased, Defendini added, “With a lot of hugs, an overwhelming amount of love and support as well as targeted support when needed, we will be able to move forward and honor the memories of Bea and Gina. In the meantime, please take care of yourselves, use our services if needed, and never lose hope in our ability to lean on each other as we move forward together.”
A service for Ferrari was held on Monday, Sept. 26. Known by many as “Grandma B”, the service and following visitations were packed by loved ones, and those who remembered the difference Ferrari made in their lives at and in the community.
Federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board have been examining the wreckage of the crash since last Friday in efforts to determine the cause of the accident. The bus involved in the crash was inspected in August when it was purchased by Regency and passed the semi-annual inspection, according to the state agency. The state Department of Transportation confirmed that the driver behind the wheel was properly licensed.
Students and staff at schools across Long Island donned green to show support for Farmingdale High School. A memorial set up outside the school has continued to grow.
Support across social media has also been abundant, with the hashtags #DalerForADay and #DalerStrong blooming. Students past and present have been posting about their experiences with Ferrari and Pellettiere. “I haven’t found the words to eloquently speak about Farmingdale’s loss,” wrote Luna D’Andrilli on Facebook. “It’s enormous. Having been a member of the music dept for six years I can however attest to the powerful community and know they will be strong for each other and for our schools, students and music teachers.”
“Ms. P was a teacher that inspired everyone she worked with,” said Melissa Hendel Suwalski. “She saw something in my boys and helped them develop their gift of music.Every note they play will be with her by their side. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people who helped and reached out to our community.”