Investigators continued on Friday to comb through the wreckage of a bus that went off a New York highway and overturned while carrying a Long Island high school marching band to Pennsylvania the day before, killing two people and injuring dozens of others.
Although Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Thursday that a faulty front tire appeared to have caused the bus to veer off the road, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, the New York State Police and the Orange County, N.Y., Sheriff’s Office were seeking to determine whether other factors may have been involved, officials said. A safety board briefing was scheduled for Friday afternoon.
As the inquiry proceeded, officials said that one of the two people killed in the crash, Gina Pellettiere, had suffered injuries to her head and torso when the bus tumbled down a 50-foot ravine on a stretch of Interstate 84 in the town of Wawayanda. The second person killed in the crash, Beatrice Ferrari, died while being taken to a hospital, officials said.
Ms. Pellettiere, 43, and Ms. Ferrari, 77, were among four adults and 40 students from Farmingdale High School who were on one of six coach buses taking the marching band on its annual trip to a camp in Pennsylvania. Ms. Pellettiere was the band’s beloved director; Ms. Ferrari was a volunteer chaperone.
Naomi Luke, 14, a freshman at Farmingdale High School, was FaceTiming with her best friend, who was on the bus with her bandmates, when she heard the screech of tires.
The image on Naomi’s phone spun, her mother, Carolina, said in an interview. When her friend’s face reappeared on the screen, it was covered with blood. The girl had a broken nose and cuts on her tongue and lips, Ms. Luke said.
In addition to the two deaths, at least five people, including several students, were critically injured. One, a freshman, was released to his parents on Friday morning after getting stitches and staples in his head and body, Ralph Ekstrand, Farmingdale’s mayor, said.
Another freshman, a girl whose spine was fractured, was taken from Westchester Medical Center to Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park on Long Island, Mr. Ekstrand said. Nearly 20 other people, most of them students, were still being treated at other hospitals, officials said.
Ms. Pellettiere was known for her sense of style and love of music, said Ms. Luke, who had been her classmate at Hicksville High School. She played “every instrument,” said Ms. Luke, who described spending Friday morning looking at Ms. Pellettiere’s picture in the high school yearbook. “She was the light of the classroom.”
Classes were in session at the high school on Friday, but a football game scheduled for the evening was canceled, as were other after-school competitions that had been planned for the weekend.
Bruce Blakeman, the Nassau County executive, said at a news briefing that counselors would be available through at least next week for anyone who might need their services.
Rose Walker, a Nassau County legislator whose district includes Farmingdale, said at the briefing that the crash was “personal” for her.
“I know many of these children, the staff,” Ms. Walker said. “I always tell them when we’re at anything together that although they don’t live in my house, they’re all my kids.”
Ms. Walker said that she had known Ms. Pellettiere, the band director, since Ms. Pellettiere was in grade school. Ms. Pellettiere “had a love for music,” Ms. Walker said, and was a drum major in high school.
“It was a dream to go further with her career, and she did, she became that band director over at Farmingdale High School,” Ms. Walker said.
Sarah Maslin Nir and Ellen Yan contributed reporting. Kirsten Noyes contributed research.
Video: Haley Compares Antisemitism on College Campuses to Racism
new video loaded: Haley Compares Antisemitism on College Campuses to Racism
Haley Compares Antisemitism on College Campuses to Racism
The former South Carolina governor said antisemitism is “just as awful” as racism.
If the K.K.K. were doing this, every college president would be up in arms. This is no different. You should treat it exactly the same. Antisemitism is just as awful as racism, and we’ve got to make sure they’re protected. And for everybody that’s protesting on these college campuses in favor of Hamas, let me remind you something. Hamas said death to Israel and death to America. They hate and would kill you, too.
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Gen Z Is Poised to Spend More on Debt Than Others. It Could Derail Retirement.
Young adults face mounting credit challenges
The Fair Isaac Corporation created the most commonly used credit scoring model in the country. The three-digit FICO score, which has a range from 300 at the low end to 850 at the high end, is a weighted composite of a borrower’s credit risk — that is, the likelihood that they will fail to pay back what they borrow. The scoring model includes five types of data: The most important is payment history, which amounts to more than one-third of the score, followed by the amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit and the mix of different types of credit.
While these conditions aren’t age-specific, Gen Z is at a distinct disadvantage because 15 percent of a credit score is derived from the length of a borrower’s credit history. The average credit score for adults 25 and younger is 679, compared with 714 for all Americans, according to the credit reporting bureau TransUnion. On a scale that ranges from 300 to 850, 679 is high enough to qualify someone for many loan types, including conventional mortgages, but it’s not good enough to get the best interest rates.
Young adults who are Black and Latino face even greater challenges. The Urban Institute, a think tank, found that young adults between ages 21 and 24 who live in communities that are predominantly Black have average credit scores of 597, which sharply limits their opportunities to borrow — and improve those scores.
Margaret Libby, the founder and chief executive of MyPath, a nonprofit promoting economic mobility, said that some common credit-building recommendations for young people, such as being added as an authorized user on a parent’s credit card, were less accessible for young adults of color as well as those in lower-income communities. “It’s an equity issue, it’s a real equity issue in this space,” she said.
For young adults with little credit history, other attributes of their credit score take on outsized importance. “This is one of the categories where what a young consumer can best do in this category is building their credit and building their credit history,” said Ethan Dornhelm, the vice president of scores and predictive analytics at FICO.
Sudden Closure of Art Institutes Leaves 1,700 Students Adrift
Hundreds of students and faculty members were left stunned on Friday by the news that the Art Institutes, a system of for-profit colleges, would close its eight remaining campuses across the United States by the end of this month.
The system had suffered from low enrollment since the coronavirus pandemic began. Previous challenges included a $95 million settlement after fraud allegations in 2015 and a loss of accreditation that led to the shuttering of nearly 20 other locations in 2018.
When Hannah Grabhorn, 21, a sophomore studying games, art and design at the Art Institute of Atlanta, received an email on Friday that said her school was closing, she looked for more answers online. But every page on the school’s website referred her back to the same notice. The email said that “the Art Institutes do not anticipate any further communication.”
Grabhorn said she and her classmates were informed of the closure one day after final exams for the school’s summer quarter.
“All of us were crying,” she said.
The Department of Education said 1,700 students would be affected by the decision. In addition to Atlanta, campuses are closing in Austin, Texas; Dallas; Houston; Miami; San Antonio; Tampa, Fla.; and Virginia Beach.
The Art Institutes did not respond to emails and phone requests for comment.
“There are students who thought they were pursuing an education who are now going to be left out in the cold,” said Deborah Obalil, executive director of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design, a nonprofit consortium.
Traditional models of arts education have experienced contractions, Obalil said. Some schools, such as the San Francisco Art Institute, are declaring bankruptcy, while others, like the Watkins College of Art in Nashville, are merging with larger institutions to save themselves.
“We are at an inflection point,” Obalil said. “Delivering an arts and design curriculum is an expensive operation.”
The Art Institutes were often marketed as cheaper options, with some students saying they were quoted about $90,000 for a full degree’s tuition. One year of tuition at a prestigious alternative like the Rhode Island School of Design is about $58,700.
Experts said that federal rules requiring educational institutions to provide students with a “teach-out” plan for completing their degrees after a closure might not apply to for-profit schools. The Education Department has proposed a rule change to include for-profit schools in the guidelines, but the policy would not go into effect until July 2024.
“We are committed to supporting students as they explore options to continue their education or apply for a closed school loan discharge,” the department said in a statement. “We are working to post information as soon as possible.”
Teachers at the Art Institutes were also surprised by the news.
Anne Perry, an instructor at the Art Institute of Dallas, posted on Facebook that she would “grieve over its fate,” calling the school “a creative, life-giving place to work.”
“I got the message right after I had met on Zoom with a student, and we had expressed looking forward to next quarter,” Perry wrote, adding, “Now it will be a different road, for many.”
Sara Perez Sanders enrolled her daughter, Justice, at the Art Institute of Virginia Beach after Justice earned a scholarship that paid for half of the tuition. She covered the rest with money from the G.I. Bill of Rights, which began offering expanded education benefits in 2009.
“I though it was a hoax,” she said of the school’s closure. “I told my daughter to call her adviser, but the phone lines were disconnected. She was in the middle of uploading her last assignments.”
The school network traces its history back to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, which was founded in 1921. A Pennsylvania company named Education Management Corporation acquired the college in 1970 before expanding its portfolio and adding courses such as culinary arts, fashion design, audio production and video games. By 2010, the company made $2.5 billion annually, with $1.8 billion coming from Education Department grants and student loans.
Five years later, Education Management Corporation settled claims with the Justice Department about illegal recruiting, consumer fraud and other claims.
Problems only grew after a faith-based nonprofit called Dream Center Education Holdings acquired the schools in 2017. After settling a class-action lawsuit that said that four Art Institutes were misleading students into believing they were accredited institutions, all that remained of the brand was a handful of campuses.
Grabhorn, the student at the Art Institute of Atlanta, said she was in a better position than those of her peers who needed only one more quarter of school before graduating. She has a couple of months before most schools begin their spring semesters to plan her next steps. Her teachers are also looking for new jobs.
“I immediately messaged my professor, who said he was really shocked,” she said. “He asked for a testimonial.”
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