Feedback: Fort Drum Soldier Hailed As Hero After Pulling People From Burning Bus

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State police have identified a soldier from Fort Drum who pulled people from a burning bus on the state Thruway overnight.

He is 28 year old Sergeant Jacob Perkins of the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment. 

"A couple of witnesses who rendered help - one notable witness is a soldier from Fort Drum. His name is Jacob Perkins. He's a sergeant. He's an E-5...He was able to get a few of the passengers off that bus safely," said State Police Major Mark Koss.

Meanwhile, the part of the Thruway where the accident occured was closed to traffic Friday morning.

It reopened at approximately 1:30 p.m.

That would be eastbound between exits 42 and 41.

(Point of reference: 41 is the exit for the popular Waterloo outlet mall.)

State police said a bus carrying 52 passengers was pulling back onto the Thruway when it was struck in the rear by a tractor-trailer, killing the truck driver and injuring about 30 people in a fiery crash.

"The bus had exploded and we just went up in the air. Everybody up and out of the seats and then it was just all hell broke loose," said bus passenger Leslie McLean.

"Within a split second it became so difficult to breathe. The air was almost black and people were screaming and yelling and it seemed like it took forever to get out of the bus," said bus passenger Jane Walker.

(Our picture of the wreckage is from the folks at WROC in Rochester. They're all over the story with video and details. Follow WROC's coverage here. )

State police said the driver of the truck, Timothy Hume, 59, of Dryden, Mich., was killed.

State Police Trooper Mark O'Donnell said some injuries were minor, though two people were taken to the hospital by helicopter with serious injuries.

The driver of the tour bus, 60 year old Rene Bisson of Welland, Ontario, is accused of driving with a suspended New York State license.

He was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation.

Perkins was one of several people who stopped to help.

O'Donnell said the eastbound bus had stopped on the shoulder of the Thruway for an unknown reason.

It was not clear if the bus was in the right lane or on the shoulder when it was struck, but it
probably was not up to speed.

According to the Associated Press, police said Sgt. Perkins was traveling behind the bus when it was hit about 1:30 a.m.

Perkins had started his leave only 90 minutes earlier, the AP reported.

Fort Drum confirmed Perkins and his unit went on a block leave Friday.

If you are Sgt. Perkins or know him, we want to hear from you.

Give us a call at (315) 788-3800.

WSTM TV's coverage is here.

WSYR TV's story is here.

Syracuse.com's coverage is here.

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Friday, August 1, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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