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July 22, 2011

Passengers of a tour bus are alive tonight because a passerby on a New York highway stopped to pull them from their burning bus after a tractor-trailer rammed into the rear of the bus and it burst into flames.

The tour bus was traveling from Ontario, Canada to New York City with 53 passengers on board when it was rear ended by a tractor-trailer about 1:20 am Friday morning on eastbound I-90 in Junius, NY.

According to a release by New York State Police, the tour bus was reentering the roadway after stopping on the shoulder when the tractor-trailer struck it from behind and both vehicles caught on fire.

The bus has stopped to reset an emission system.

Police say the bus was in the driving lane when struck, but they are unsure how fast the bus was going.

It was moments after the crash when US Army Sgt. Jacob Perkins, a solder on leave from Fort Drum, saw the accident scene on the other side of the highway from where he was traveling, crossed the median and was one of the first people to arrive as the scene. He then began pulling dozens of victims from the burning tour bus, according to WSYR-TV.

Sgt. Perkins drove two victims to a hospital in Rochester, and then drove them to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse after they learned their family members had been taken there instead.

“I was doing what anyone else would have done.” Sgt. Perkins told the news station.

He was on his way home to Missouri when he stopped to offer aid.

CNN reports that 30 passengers on the bus sustained injuries, including two people in critical condition transported to area hospitals by helicopter.

Fifty-nine-year-old Timothy Hume of Dryden, MI, the driver of the tractor-trailer, was killed.

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