One of two people killed in a New York bus crash Thursday was a retired teacher who continued to volunteer as a chaperone at a band camp 17 years after her retirement.
Beatrice Ferrari, 77, died in the crash in Wawayanda, about 75 miles northwest of New York.
The bus was carrying 40 students and four adults from the Farmingdale school district on Long Island to a band camp in Pennsylvania when it fell into a 50-foot ravine, according to New York state officials. The group’s director, Gina Pellettiere, 43, was also killed in the accident and five students were seriously injured.
Even though Ferrari had been retired for 17 years, she continued to donate her time to the group because she loved being with the students, said her daughter, Angela Ferrari-Aldieri. She was a teacher liaison who worked closely with parents and students.
“She left alone because she really cared,” Ferrari-Aldieri told NBC News Thursday evening, just hours after the accident.
Ferrari-Aldieri was already at the group’s camp in Pennsylvania, where she was volunteering as lead chaperone Thursday, when she learned the group’s charter bus had been in an accident.
“To be completely honest, I really didn’t believe it,” Ferrari-Aldieri said. “I said to myself, ‘No, that can’t be.'”
Ferrari-Aldieri went to the hospital where her mother was taken from the scene of the accident and was informed that she had died.
“I still think it’s not real, to be really honest, it’s completely surreal,” she said.
Ferrari had a profound impact on the Farmingdale community as a high school teacher for 32 years. She was affectionately known as “Grandma Bea” and volunteered at the school’s music camp for 31 years, including during her 17 years of retirement.
She taught a 10th grade global studies class that was across the street from the music room and began volunteering as a chaperone after another teacher retired. Ferrari continued his role as chaperone when Pellettiere, the band director and the accident’s second victim, joined the high school.
“And my mother was very special in the sense that she always loved being a mentor to new teachers that were joining her school, and her and Gina developed a friendship just from being across the hall,” said Ferrari-Aldieri. “And Gina said we have to keep this tradition, that you have to keep coming to band camp.”
Pellettiere and Ferrari attended high school music camp together for 19 years. Next year would have been Ferrari’s last year volunteering at the camp, his daughter said.
“I’m here tonight to honor my mother and to tell everyone, ‘Hey, if you have a memory of my mother, I want you to keep it,’ because that’s what she would want.” Ferrari-Aldieri said. “She would want you to remember something fun she did or how she helped you. And honestly, that’s the most powerful thing I can say, I just want people – if you knew my mother – remember her well.”