911 tapes released in Chesterfield school bus crash

March 8, 2012 3:27:14 PM PST
Action News has obtained the 911 tapes from the deadly school bus crash in Chesterfield Township.

11-year-old Isabelle Tezsla was killed in the crash.

Her 11-year-old triplet sister Sophie was released from Cooper Medical Center yesterday.

11-year-old Jonathan Zdybel remains in stable condition at Cooper.

Operator Cheryl Hopkins was among those taking the 911 calls on the morning of February 16th.

Ed Ruggiano was the dispatcher.

Caller: There's a bus accident with a tractor trailer and a bus on York Road and 528 in Chesterfield, New Jersey. I need an ambulance.

911 Operator: Alright.

Caller: A bus full of kids.

"I passed a call over to [Ed] and the caller was on the bus," Hopkins said.

911 staffers didn't see video of the dump truck, school bus collision until after the phone calls; so in the early moments of the incident, they relied on the callers.

"We're trying to find out what's going on at the scene as best as possible," Ruggiano said.

Caller: There's a pretty bad accident with the tractor, a dump truck, and a school bus

911 Operator: Is there anybody on the school bus?

Caller: I don't know.

The first call came in at 8:18 a.m.; the first officer was on the scene at 8:19.

Caller: There is a cop there at the intersection

911 Operator: OK. You don't see any smoke or fire coming from it, do you?

Caller: No. No. No.

Staffers were focused on getting help to the scene.

Time to reflect would come later.

"In an incident like that, you don't have time to think about it," Ruggiano said.

"We deal with things like this all the time, but it was really upsetting, in that it was kids severely injured, I don't think a day passes that you don't think about it," Hopkins said.

Not a day goes by in tiny Chesterfield without a sign of what happened. Memory ribbons seem to be everywhere in the town.

So far the Chesterfield Cares Beyond Words group has raised $40,000 with them.

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