This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of March 25

2022-03-25 TWIR Image-Congers Bus Crash

March 25, 1972 – 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News


       Somewhere in the back of every parent’s mind there’s a suppressed small cloud. It starts when toddlers first propel themselves out of sight and it never quite ends. That anxiety full blown to unbearable dimensions was a living thing Friday morning as parents came to Nyack Hospital searching for their high school sons and daughters.
       Fear was in the air, in the abandoned coffee cups, in the chairs pushed back in a futile response to a need to take some action.
       The most horrible of what-ifs had happened, a student-laden bus ripped apart by a train at an unguarded crossing. Every face was shaped by anxiety those better able to repress outward signs comforting the trembling.
       There was noting to do for these people brought together from 25 different lifestyles to a point in time when there was nothing to do for their children.
       The black cassocked priest and the other clergymen offered what they had—hope and faith. The pink aproned volunteers poured coffee and murmured comforting sounds. Harassed hospital officials came at interminably long periods to report new identifications.
     There was nothing anyone could do for this roomful of people except pray. Everyone was offered hope and it was a slender reed to lean on.
       But outside that room a miracle was quietly taking place. So many people of so may diverse skills, views, strengths, were moving expertly to salvage the hurt children. Emergency room people, covered with blood, walking quietly and certainly through the drills they practiced so long. Ambulance volunteers, porters, policemen, nurses, physicians, emergency room, X-ray, operating rooms, corridors, people functioning smoothly in unspoken urgency. Their healing movements were detached and expert—the complete antitheses of the helpless parents.
       The parents looked at each other as a first one and then another got word it was only bruises, cuts, a broken leg. She wasn’t on that bus at all!
       We well may ponder the archaic laws that permit grade crossings all over Rockland County, look for a scapegoat and move the ponderous political machinery that goes into creating laws to prevent such tragedies.
       But right now, it is a time for mourning the dead and healing the injured and wondering a man’s infinite capacity to rise to the occasion.

This Week in Rockland (#FBF Flashback Friday) is prepared by Clare Sheridan on behalf of the Historical Society of Rockland County. To learn about the HSRC’s mission, upcoming events or programs, visit or call (845) 634-9629.


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