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"Daler Strong": Farmingdale community comes together after deadly charter bus crash

Farmingdale H.S. students comfort one another while processing deadly crash
Farmingdale H.S. students comfort one another while processing deadly crash 02:26

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- The Farmingdale community is coming together after Thursday's tragic and deadly charter bus crash.

Friday was a sad day for both students at Farmingdale High School and the entire Farmingdale community. Families and students have been placing flowers and balloons outside of the school.

Some students who were on the other buses and witnessed the tragic accident came to school Friday; they said they wanted to support their fellow students and band members.

"We're all trying to stay positive," senior Elijah Davis said.

Just three weeks into the school year, students and staff at Farmingdale High School on Long Island are doing their best to cope with tragedy.

"It was scary. I knew a lot of people who were on the bus, all of my friends who are thankfully OK, but it was definitely scary," junior Mia Hayes said.

Watch Jennifer Bisram's report

Farmingdale community mourning after deadly charter bus crash 02:25

Emotions at the high school are high, prayers are up, and candles, a cross, green balloons, ribbons and flowers are all around the campus.

"It's a lot of mixed emotions. It happened really fast," senior Naomi Contreras said.

Authorities say a charter bus carrying dozens of students from the school and several adults went off an Orange County highway and down an embankment Thursday afternoon, critically injuring several students.

"They're all good. They're all awake and moving. I mean, some of my friends are still in hospital. A few got released yesterday," Mia said.

"Five of the juniors were on the trip. Two of them were in the bus. One of them has been discharged from Westchester Medical Center. The other one, please keep her in your prayers. She was medevaced this morning to a specialty hospital here on Long Island," Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand said.

Sadly, 77-year old Beatrice Ferrari, a retired teacher who was a chaperone, and the school's band director, Gina Pellettiere, affectionately known as Ms. P, lost their lives.

"Everyone in Farmingdale, we will always remember Ms. P.," Elijah said.

"She was a huge light for this school, and I just feel it's like a tremendous loss for all of us," Mia said.

"We decided to bring flowers and to just remember Ms. P. as an inspiration to the band community, and it's gonna be really hard," Naomi said.

Daniel Aldieri, Ferrari's son-in-law, told CBS New York, "She was a pillar of the community. She loved band camp. I mean, she must've gone for 30 years. This was a trip she looked forward to every year, and to have her go this way is so sad. We're all devastated, the whole family is."

Ferrari's grandson was on another bus in the caravan.

Left: Gina Pellettiere; Right: Beatrice Ferrari CBS New York

The bus that crashed was one of six in a caravan carrying musicians and dancers headed to band camp in Pennsylvania. The superintendent for Farmingdale schools sent out a message to parents.

"'Daler Strong' is alive and well right now, and we are working together to support our students and staff as we take the time to heal," Superintendent Paul Defendini said.

As students find comfort in one another during this time, Farmingdale's superintendent and mayor say together, the school and community will get through this.

"We are praying for the kids that are in the emergency room hospitals," Naomi said.

Grief counselors were at the school for students and staff all day Friday. All after-school activities, including a football game, were canceled for the weekend.

"I think that the school did a fantastic job with this. I think that they've had a lot of people come in to help us a lot of grief counselors a lot of the social workers. I think that they've done a great job with this," Mia said.

Dozens spent Friday night silently passing through a memorial outside the school's front entrance, embracing and crying on each other's shoulders.

"I'm in a state where I haven't fully come to terms with what has happened ... It was like a dream," senior Santino Talavera said.

Santino was on Bus 2, behind Bus 1. He took Friday off, saying he's still feeling numb after what he saw.

"I stood up, and the bus was already in the ditch on the side, and it was just such a shocking sight to see," he said.

Video taken at a football game just a week before Thursday's horrific crash shows Santino conducting the pep band alongside Pellettiere.

"She motivated us to find that passion," Santino said. "She really helped the band feel motivated to play the music and realize it's not all about the hierarchy of, 'I'm the band teacher, and I'm conducting.'"

Heartfelt messages were written for both Ferrari and Pellettiere on hearts placed on crosses at the memorial.

"Uniting as a community and confiding in one another is what we should take from this," Santino said.

School is back in session for students on Tuesday.

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