Tragedy struck an Ohio interstate Tuesday when a collision involving a semitrailer and a student-laden bus resulted in the loss of at least three lives and injuries to 18 others. This catastrophic event unfolded shortly after 9 a.m. when the semitrailer collided with the rear of a charter bus.
The bus, carrying students and chaperones from the Tuscarawas Valley Local School District, was en route to a conference in Columbus, as stated by the district on Facebook.
Superintendent Derek Varansky, deeply concerned, shared, “We are grappling with the possibility of multiple serious injuries. Our current priority is contacting families of those aboard the bus and supporting our school community during these testing times.”
According to Lt. Nate Dennis of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the crash involved five vehicles on Interstate 70 West in Licking County, transporting 18 individuals on the bus to hospitals. Licking County Emergency Management Agency Director Sean Grady confirmed a total of 57 people were onboard, delineating the number of deaths and injuries.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, visibly shaken, described the incident as “our worst nightmare.” He extended his heartfelt thoughts and prayers to all affected families at a news conference.
As the details of the incident unfolded, it was revealed that three passengers on the bus, identified as John W. Mosely, 18, Jeffery D. Worrell, 18, and Katelyn N. Owens, 15, were pronounced dead at the crash site. Additionally, 15 students and the bus driver were hospitalized, while others were taken to a reunification center.
Tragically, all three occupants of one of the passenger vehicles involved also perished at the scene. They were identified as Dave Kennat, 56, Kristy Gaynor, 39, and Shannon Wigfield, 45. The driver of another passenger vehicle was hospitalized, and one of the commercial vehicle drivers received treatment for non-life-threatening injuries.
The chain-reaction crash, westbound on I-70, about 26 miles east of Columbus, also resulted in at least three vehicles catching fire. The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched a team to investigate.
School Community Mourns as Ohio Conference Canceled
Superintendent Varansky reiterated his commitment to supporting the Tuscarawas Valley families and school community. Meanwhile, the Ohio School Boards Association conference was canceled in light of the tragedy.
Pioneer Trails, the company involved, expressed condolences and promised cooperation with the ongoing investigation, while the Red Cross provided blood units to aid the victims. A crisis center was established at a local church for those unharmed in the crash to reunite with loved ones.
As the Tuscarawas Valley Middle-High School became a hub for anxious parents, the community grappled with the enormity of the tragedy. The Columbus Dispatch reported the palpable distress among parents as they arrived to reunite with their children.
Emergency responders rushed to the scene, where transportation cameras captured smoke billowing from the wreckage. The crash caused substantial traffic disruptions, with police blocking access to the interstate.
This Ohio incident follows another recent fatal crash in New York, where a charter bus carrying high school students to a band camp veered off a highway, resulting in two deaths and multiple injuries.