Fatal Crash on Interstate 70: School Bus and Semi-Truck Catastrophe

Fatal Crash on Interstate 70: School Bus and Semi-Truck Catastrophe

Tragic Collision Claims Lives

In a devastating incident on Tuesday morning, a school bus carrying students from Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools collided with a semi-truck on Interstate 70 West in Licking County, Ohio.

The collision, occurring just before 9 am near the Smoke Road underpass, resulted in six confirmed deaths and 18 injuries.

The casualties include three students on the bus and three adults from the same vehicle, all associated with Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools.

Fatalities and Injuries

The three students, identified as John W. Mosley (18), Jeffrey D. Worrell (18), and Katelyn Owens (15), were on their way to an Ohio School Boards Association conference in Columbus, where the high school band was scheduled to perform.

The three adults, teachers Dave Kennat (56) and Shannon Wigfield (45), along with chaperone Kristy Gaynor (39), also lost their lives in the tragic accident. Mosley, honored as Fine Arts Student of the Month, had a vibrant profile, while Worrell, known as JD, aimed to major in psychology and vocal music.

Collision Details and Emergency Response

The collision involved five vehicles, including the semi-truck and the school bus. The impact resulted in a massive fire, engulfing the bus’s rear. Emergency responders, facing a chaotic scene, attended to the injured, with 15 of the 18 believed to be juveniles.

The Ohio Department of Transportation shared images of the emergency response, depicting thick plumes of smoke emanating from the vehicles.

Governor’s Response and Ongoing Investigation

Governor Mike DeWine expressed condolences and ordered flags to be flown at half-staff. Describing the incident as a nightmare, he emphasized the gravity of a bus full of children involved in a crash.

The investigation into the crash is expected to take time, with the eastbound highway reopening by 4:30 pm, while the westbound remained closed.

School’s Statement and Community Support

Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools Superintendent Derek Varansky conveyed the school’s focus on reaching out to affected families and providing support to the entire school community.

The school bus, operated by Pioneer Trails, a family-owned company, was on its way to the conference when the tragedy occurred. The American Red Cross of Central and Southern Ohio responded to the incident by fulfilling a request for blood from a local hospital.

Family Reactions and Witness Testimonies

Family members, shocked and devastated, shared their grief, with a witness recounting the catastrophic scene. A grandmother mentioned her granddaughter witnessing a firefighter entering the burning bus just before it exploded.

Truck driver Chris McNeal described the wreck as ‘catastrophic,’ detailing the efforts to rescue individuals from the burning bus.

Investigation and Support Services

Authorities, including the Licking County Coroner’s Office, are investigating the incident. Pioneer Trails, the bus company, affirmed its full cooperation with authorities.

Support services, including a center for non-injured passengers at a United Methodist Church in Etna, were initiated for those needing assistance or wanting to contact loved ones.

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