NEW YORK (Jul. 16)
Seven Jewish children were killed and 52 others were injured, eight seriously when a bus chartered by the Hillel School of Lawrence, Long Island, slid off a wet highway and over an embankment yesterday afternoon near Allentown, Pa. Most of the passengers were 11 or 12 years old. The children were taking a two day tour of eastern Pennsylvania’s Amish area and three towns. A spokesman for the school, who was on the bus at the time of the accident, said “it seemed to lose control.” Two of the dead children were from the borough of Queens, the other five from the Long Island towns of Woodmere, Cedarhurst, Valley Stream and Lawrence. Parents of the passengers, including men wearing yarmulkas, were given the details of the tragedy by Nahum Gordon, chairman of the school’s board of trustees. Many of the parents had tears in their eyes, and some were in states of daze and near-collapse. The Hillel School is a two-story modern building that also serves as a summer day-camp for 550 children.
The officers of the Hillel School issued a statement today, declaring they were “profoundly shocked” by the “calamity that has stricken the entire community.” They praised “the entire community of Allentown of all faiths and their respective religious leaders who offered the hospitality of home and heart.” They also praised the “all-night vigils” maintained by local rabbis, the services of the school’s counseling staff and the three Allentown hospitals, and the “disaster center” set up by Temple Beth El there. The Hillel School observed a “modified” schedule today. An “appropriate” memorial service will be held on the school grounds tomorrow afternoon. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania State Police and investigators of the National Transportation Safety Board began a joint probe into the cause of the accident. The bus driver could not be immediately questioned. He was in critical condition at a hospital in Allentown.