Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/USA Today Network
Scene of the fatal five-vehicle crash Tuesday morning on Interstate 70 near Columbus, Ohio.
At least six people are dead – including three teenagers – after a bus transporting students was involved in a fiery, five-vehicle crash Tuesday morning on Interstate 70 in Etna, Ohio, authorities said.
Killed were three teenagers on the bus – John W. Mosely, 18, of Mineral City, Ohio; Jeffery D. Worrell, 18, of Bolivar, and Katelyn N. Owens, 15, of Mineral City – and three people riding in another vehicle – Dave Kennat, 56, of Navarre; Kristy Gaynor, 39, of Zoar; and Shannon Wigfield, 45, of Bolivar, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
All six died at the scene, the highway patrol said. Fifteen students and the bus driver were taken to hospitals while other bus passengers were taken to a reunification site.
“Let me just say that this is our worst nightmare when we have a bus full of children involved in a crash, the worst nightmare that families can endure,” Gov. Mike DeWine told reporters.
The fiery crash happened at 8:52 a.m. in westbound lanes and involved five vehicles, and 18 people were transported to local hospitals, State Highway Patrol Lt. Nathan Dennis said. The coach bus was struck by a commercial tractor-trailer, according to the highway patrol.
The chain-reaction crash involved the bus, two commercial vehicles and two passenger vehicles, the highway patrol said. The drivers of one commercial vehicle and one private vehicle were taken to the hospital with injuries. The driver of the other commercial vehicle was treated at the scene, authorities said.
Tragedy is hard to describe, governor says
Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools Superintendent Derek Veransky wrote on the district website that “a charter bus carrying Tusky Valley students and chaperones on the way to the Ohio School Boards Association conference in Columbus was involved in a very serious accident.”
“We understand from law enforcement that there may be multiple serious injuries and we are working to learn the details,” Veransky wrote. “We will share news with you as we are able, including our plans for upcoming school days and events. Right now, our focus is on getting in touch with our Tusky Valley families who had loved ones on the bus and providing support to our entire school community. Our Trojan family is strong, and it will take that strength and love to get throughout these coming challenging days.”
DeWine said flags on government buildings at the capital and in Tuscarawas County would fly at half-staff.
“This tragedy is just, it’s really kind of hard to describe,” the governor said. “I’d like to express my deepest sympathy on behalf of the people in the state of Ohio to all to the families, to everyone who has been injured, to everyone whose family members died. This is just a tragedy that no one can hardly ever imagine.”
The Ohio School Boards Association said on Facebook: “Today, a charter bus carrying Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools students and chaperones on the way to the annual OSBA Capital Conference and Trade Show was involved in a very serious accident. Please join us in praying for the entire Tuscarawas Valley family.”
DeWine said the investigation into the cause of the accident will take some time. He described the students as coming from a small school in a tight-knit rural part of the county.
Dennis said a crash reconstruction team from the highway patrol was on the scene to “break down what exactly caused the crash in regard to which vehicle struck which vehicle and what that sequence was within that crash.”
Nearly two months ago, two longtime teachers were killed and multiple students injured when their charter bus tumbled down a 50-foot ravine on Interstate 84 in Orange County, New York, officials said.
Preliminary information suggested a faulty front tire may have contributed to the September 21 crash.
The bus was carrying 40 students from Farmingdale High School on Long Island and four adults, the New York State Police said. The students, who were part of the school’s marching band, were on their way to Pennsylvania for a band camp event.
CNN’s David J. Lopez and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.