Firefighter reflects on 1 year since deadly school bus crash

Friday will mark one year since a deadly school bus accident on Interstate 80 in Morris County.

News 12 Staff

May 17, 2019, 2:26 AM

Updated 1,829 days ago

Share:

Friday will mark one year since a deadly school bus accident on Interstate 80 in Morris County.
On the eve of the anniversary, News 12 New Jersey spoke with a firefighter who was first on the scene thanks to being in the right place at the right time.
Roselle firefighter Zach Weissglass says that he knows that he was meant to be a first responder. The 25-year-old says that he loves to help people. But he says that he had no idea the impact he would have on May 17, 2018.
“I was just getting off shift. I was going to visit my dad in Pennsylvania,” he says.
What started off as a normal drive on I-80 quickly changed course when Weissglass witnessed a Paramus school bus start to make an illegal U-turn on the highway and get struck by a dump truck.
“I immediately stopped and I thought the bus was empty at first,” he says. “I went to go see if the driver was OK and at that point, I realized the bus was filled with children…It was actually surprisingly quiet because all the kids were in shock.”
The bus was filled with fifth-graders from East Brook Middle School on their way to a field trip.
“A lot of them were cut up…had minor injuries. A couple of them were major injuries and…two of them were under the seat, so I actually had to pry the seat to get them out.”
Weissglass was able to work with an off-duty FDNY EMT and a nurse who stopped to help. They were able to get students off the bus while first responders arrived.
“Me and the FDNY medic bandaged a bunch of patients. I was able to get a medical bag from a transport company,” Weissglass says.
He says that this is something that he has trained for, but it was different to see it in real life.
“Every time I pass the scene, the two or three crosses sitting there and every time I look at it, it brings up memories,” he says.
Weissglass has received many awards for his action on that day. But he says that while it is nice to be recognized, he was just doing his job.
A student and teacher died in the crash. The bus driver has been charged with vehicular homicide.
 


More from News 12
1:37
Tour de Elizabeth takes cyclists through New Jersey's fourth-largest city

Tour de Elizabeth takes cyclists through New Jersey's fourth-largest city

1:38
Mostly cloudy skies and dry conditions in New Jersey

Mostly cloudy skies and dry conditions in New Jersey

0:23
Police: Haddonfield man faces charges for arson, stalking and vandalism

Police: Haddonfield man faces charges for arson, stalking and vandalism

0:17
Authorities: George Washington Bridge climber in custody

Authorities: George Washington Bridge climber in custody

1:42
Jersey Creators Market event in Jersey City brings street designers from all over Garden State

Jersey Creators Market event in Jersey City brings street designers from all over Garden State

1:40
Red Bank's Broad Walk summer festival returns to downtown

Red Bank's Broad Walk summer festival returns to downtown

2:08
Residents get rid of junk during citywide ‘Love Newark, Keep It Clean’ campaign

Residents get rid of junk during citywide ‘Love Newark, Keep It Clean’ campaign

1:19
Bus catches fire on Garden State Parkway near Wall Township

Bus catches fire on Garden State Parkway near Wall Township

0:23
Prosecutor: Plainfield man sentenced to 5 years in prison for Bridgewater car crash

Prosecutor: Plainfield man sentenced to 5 years in prison for Bridgewater car crash

1:43
CDC urges people to get vaccinated amid resurgence of mpox

CDC urges people to get vaccinated amid resurgence of mpox

0:31
Police: Jersey City man arrested following pursuit spanning 2 counties

Police: Jersey City man arrested following pursuit spanning 2 counties

2:37
‘We’re asking to fight.’ Parents, students call on officials to save Wayne Catholic school from closing

‘We’re asking to fight.’ Parents, students call on officials to save Wayne Catholic school from closing

2:05
36th Annual Belmar Seafood Festival to take place this weekend at Silver Lake Park

36th Annual Belmar Seafood Festival to take place this weekend at Silver Lake Park

0:25
Prosecutor: Human remains found in 1 of 3 cars submerged in Cooper River in Pennsauken

Prosecutor: Human remains found in 1 of 3 cars submerged in Cooper River in Pennsauken

0:18
Newark police seek public’s help identifying package thief

Newark police seek public’s help identifying package thief

0:21
Officials: 3 people, including 2 officers, injured in car crash in Jersey City

Officials: 3 people, including 2 officers, injured in car crash in Jersey City

0:41
Jersey Proud: Rowan College students hold fashion show at Cherry Hill Mall with their designs

Jersey Proud: Rowan College students hold fashion show at Cherry Hill Mall with their designs

0:15
Police: Newton hospital temporarily put on lockdown amid reports of armed person

Police: Newton hospital temporarily put on lockdown amid reports of armed person

2:26
First full week of Sen. Menendez’s federal corruption trial comes to a close

First full week of Sen. Menendez’s federal corruption trial comes to a close

2:24
New Jersey man dubbed ‘most frequent flyer’ hits 24 million miles in the sky

New Jersey man dubbed ‘most frequent flyer’ hits 24 million miles in the sky