NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There was a rush to rescue dozens of teenagers after a bus crashed into scaffolding on the West Side of Manhattan Thursday morning.
One by one, the teens were helped out through a window, CBS 2's Weijia Jiang reported.
A tour of the city instantly turned into a frightening ride.
"A lot of people hit their heads on the window. It was scary," passenger Chelsea Batten said.
The bus company, Optimum Ride, said the driver swerved to avoid a pot hole near 41st Street and Ninth Avenue in Hell's Kitchen, and crashed into the scaffolding.
"My friend and I banged our heads against each other. The bus driver was trying to steer but you could see he was not able to. Then the crash, the sounds, the screams … it was pretty terrifying," passenger Lisa Harrity said.
It was terrifying not only for passengers, but also pedestrians on the sidewalk, who were sent scrambling for safety.
"It ran into the wall, the scaffolding started falling like dominoes, you know how they start falling? And I was running while they were falling from behind me. All I heard was screams," witness Vinneca Antoine said.
Dozens of firefighters worked to free the 44 people on board, a challenge because scattered scaffolding shattered glass and blocked the main door.
"We opened the side emergency exit window, put a ladder up, and assisted the people down from inside the bus," FDNY Deputy Chief Anthony Devita said.
The challenge was removing 44 people out of a very small opening, including small children and elderly people. Eventually everyone escaped the bus.
"(I'm a) little shaken up still, but we're good. We're good," one passenger said.
The group on board was a dance team from St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, kids ages 9 to 16 with their parents and grandparents.
They all went home with a wild story of mayhem.
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