‘She really cared’: New York bus crash victim ‘Grandma Bea’ was a retired teacher and band camp volunteer

One of the two people killed in a New York bus crash Thursday was a former longtime teacher who continued to volunteer as a band camp chaperone 17 years after her retirement.

Beatrice Ferrari, 77, died in the crash in Wawayanda, about 75 miles northwest of New York City.

The bus was carrying 40 students and four adults from Long Island’s Farmingdale School District to a band camp in Pennsylvania when it fell down a 50-foot ravine, according to New York state officials. Band director Gina Pellettiere, 43, was also killed in the crash and five students were critically injured.

Although Ferrari had been retired for 17 years, she continued to volunteer her time to the band because she loved being with the students, her daughter, Angela Ferrari-Aldieri, said. She was a teacher liaison who worked closely with parents and students.

“She went on her own because she really cared,” Ferrari-Aldieri told NBC News on Thursday evening, just hours after the crash.

Ferrari-Aldieri was already at the band camp in Pennsylvania, where she was volunteering as lead chaperone Thursday, when she heard that the band’s charter bus had been in an accident.

“To be quite honest, I really didn’t believe it,” she said. “I was like, ‘No, that can’t be.'”

Ferrari-Aldieri drove to the hospital where her mother was transported from the crash site, and was informed she had died.

“I still think that this is not real, to be really honest, that this is completely surreal,” she said.

Her mother had a profound impact on the Farmingdale community as a teacher for 32 years at the high school. She was lovingly known as “Grandma Bea” and volunteered at the school’s band camp for 31 years, including during her 17 years of retirement.

She taught a 10th grade global studies class that was across the hall from the band room, and started volunteering as a chaperone after another teacher retired. Ferrari continued her role as chaperone when Pellettiere joined the high school.

“And my mom was very special in that she always liked to be a mentor to the new teachers that would come on board at her school, and she and Gina developed a friendship just by being across the hall,” Ferrari-Aldieri said. “And Gina said we have to keep this tradition, you have to keep coming to band camp.”

Pellettiere and Ferrari attended the high school’s band camp together for 19 years. Next year would’ve been Ferrari’s final year volunteering at the camp, her daughter said.

“I’m here tonight to honor my mom and to tell everybody, ‘Hey, if you have a memory of my mom, I want you to hold on to it,’ because that’s what she would want,” Ferrari-Aldieri said. “She would want you to remember something fun that she did or how she helped you. And honestly, that is the most powerful thing that I can say, I just want people — if you knew my mom — just remember her well.”


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