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33 high school students injured after bus veers off highway into woods

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Thirty-three high school students were injured after their school bus crashed into the woods along New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway on Monday afternoon.

By Monday evening, everyone hurt in the crash was evaluated and released from local hospitals, with only four students suffering more than minor injuries.

“The bus is about to tip over and I thought I was going to die,” said Infinity Watson, a student at Charter Tech who was on the bus at the time of the crash, which occurred just before 3:30 p.m.

State police said that the driver lost control of the bus, veering off the parkway and into trees on the side of the road. The bus left deep skid marks in the grass on the side of the parkway.

It appeared the crash was caused after an outer-rear wheel came off the bus while it was still in motion, investigators told NBCPhiladelphia.com. An inner-rear tire was also found to be attached to a bent axle. Investigators were still trying to determine the exact cause of the crash.

Tom Dugan, the owner of the bus company Safety Bus, confirmed that the bus recently needed re-inspection after an earlier annual inspection revealed problems that needed correcting.

Chopper 10 / NBC Philadephia

A bus carrying 36 New Jersey high school students careened off the Garden State Parkway on Monday afternoon, crashing into the woods on the side of the road.

Driver praised
Parents and students on the bus praised the driver for swerving off the roadway instead of into traffic.

“My daughter did say the bus driver did everything she could not to run into a car or hit the biggest tree possible,” said parent Michelle Griffin.

More from NBCPhiladelphia.com

All of the 36 students on board, as well as the driver, were taken to local hospital. Four students refused medical evaluation and left with their parents.

Most of the injuries were described as bumps and bruises, with some students complaining of neck and back pain.