At least three people became trapped when they were pinned down by broken window frames after the chartered bus slid down an embankment and landed on its side around 7:45 a.m. on the Interstate 80 exit ramp in Wayne, N.J., about 25 kilometres northwest of New York City.
New Jersey state police Sgt. Adam Grossman says the 23 people were taken to six-area hospitals for non-life threatening injuries, while several others had to be treated at the scene.
The packed bus, which left Toronto and was bound for New York City, was carrying 57 passengers including several children and an infant, according to authorities.
Grossman says the group was travelling with a Toronto-based company called Cynthia's Bus Tours, which had rented the bus from AVM Max 2000 Charter Services Inc.
Phone calls to the company, which advertised in a local Caribbean newspaper, went straight to voicemail Saturday.
Some of the passengers on the bus were part of a group of Seventh Day Adventists who were headed to an event in Brooklyn for the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.
"It was terrifying," Norma Cumberbatch, 66, of Toronto, told local newspaper, The Star-Ledger.
Cumberbatch, who was travelling with her 68-year-old sister, Marjorie, said she struggled to free her legs from fallen luggage and other debris before trying to find her sister.
"I just took my leg out and then said, 'Where's my sister? I want my sister.'"
Marjorie Cumberbatch said she heard "thump, thump, thump. Then I looked up and I saw people over me screaming and crying."
Another passenger told the Associated Press that at first, she didn't realize what was happening.
"I just hear the glass cracking, cracking and then I look I saw, I saw, my god, what is this? You know and I was laying on the floor," said the woman who was not named.
Another had been sleeping when the collision occurred.
"I had just gotten up from sleeping and so, you know felt the commotion and then all of a sudden, you knew the bus had turned over," said the woman.
Grossman says police are continuing their investigation and it's too early to say what may have caused the crash.
But the Associated Press reported that the bus driver, who suffered a gash on his arm, told state police that he had been cut off by another vehicle just prior to the crash.
Witnesses reported seeing several people wearing neck braces being loaded into ambulances, while those unhurt were put onto another bus and continued with their journey, say police.
Photos from the scene showed a white bus flipped on its side at the bottom of the embankment that the ramp wrapped around. Weather conditions appeared clear.
The exit ramp was reopened after several hours.
— By Linda Nguyen in TorontoSuggest a correction