6 dead, 18 hospitalized when bus carrying students and truck crash on Ohio highway, officials say
ETNA, Ohio (WOIO/AP) - A charter bus carrying students from a high school was involved in a crash Tuesday morning on Interstate 70 in Ohio, leaving six people dead and 18 others injured, according to an emergency official.
Licking County Emergency Management Agency Director Sean Grady said the charter bus was transporting students from a school in eastern Ohio. There was a total of 57 people onboard, he said.
Grady confirmed that three of those killed in the crash were from a vehicle following the bus.
There were five cars involved in the crash, including the semi and the charter bus, according to officials.
During a press conference, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio State Highway Patrol officials confirmed 18 people were taken to local hospitals. Fifteen of the injured were students.
Grady said the semi rear-ended the Pioneer Trails bus shortly before 9 a.m. on I-70 West in Licking County, near the Smoke Road underpass.
The Ohio Department of Transportation said the eastbound lanes of I-70 opened around 5 p.m. local time. The westbound lanes remain closed.
Staff with the Tuscarawas Valley Local School District told 19 News the bus was occupied by band students. Superintendent Dr. Derek Varansky shared the following statement on their social media:
“I have devastating and heartbreaking news to report. Today, 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. We will share news with you as soon 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 through these coming challenging days.”
Pioneer Trails, the charter bus company carrying the students, released this statement:
“Pioneer Trails can confirm that there was an incident Tuesday morning with one of our buses. Pioneer is fully cooperating with the authorities as we work to find the cause of the accident. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those impacted by this accident. As this is an ongoing investigation, there will be no further comments.”
Troopers said emergency personnel have taken over a dozen victims to local hospitals.
Their conditions are not known currently. The injured were being treated at seven hospitals.
A prayer vigil was scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Tuscarawas County community. It is being held at the district’s football stadium.
The American Red Cross of Central and Southern Ohio said it fulfilled a request for more blood from one hospital in the area, sending 30 units to a hospital in the Mount Carmel Health System, said Marita Salkowski, regional communications director.
A center was set up at a United Methodist Church in Etna for bus passengers not in need of medical attention to go to and contact loved ones, she said.
“This is our worst nightmare when we have a bus full of children involved in a crash,” DeWine said during a news conference at the scene. “Prayers go out to the families, everyone who was on the bus.”
It was the second recent fatal crash involving high school students on a charter bus. In September, two people were killed and several others injured when a charter bus carrying high school students to band camp veered off a New York highway.
The Associated Press and WOIO contributed to this report.
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. WOIO contributed to this report