State Police, which is investigating the crash, did not know Thursday who was at fault or what caused the crash between the dump truck and the school bus on Route 80.
"The bus flew off of the wheels, but it hit the metal thing on the side of the highway", pupil Theo Ancevski said.
Two other buses in the field trip convoy also carrying fifth-graders on the same trip returned to Paramus, officials said.
The Paramus (puh-RAM'-uhs) school district says the bus was taking students from East Brook Middle School to Waterloo Village, near the crash scene.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the driver of the truck was alive and being treated at a hospital, but officials did not reveal his condition. They were on a field trip to Waterloo Village, which depicts a Lenape Indian community and once-thriving port along the Morris Canal. Forty-three of the 45 people were hurt, and some are in critical condition.
Seventh-grader Alejandro Garcia told The Record that students were told to return to homeroom on Thursday morning.
2 Dead, 45 Hurt After NJ School Bus Collides with Dump Truck
Mendez Trucking has about 40 drivers and trucks, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. But the out-of-service rate in Paramus is much lower - at less than 10 percent.
"They were young kids", he said.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 118 people on school buses were killed in crashes from 2007-2016, the a year ago for which data is available.
The company also had to pay a $22,000 fine in 2016 for three inspection violations.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 118 people on school buses were killed in crashes from 2007-2016, the past year for which data is available. The national average is 20.7.
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