At least 6 dead after charter bus carrying students crashes on Interstate 70 in Ohio, official says

Nov 14, 2023, 12:24 PM | Updated: 5:12 pm

Scene of the fatal five-vehicle crash on Interstate 70 near Columbus, Ohio.
Mandatory Credit:	Barba...

Scene of the fatal five-vehicle crash on Interstate 70 near Columbus, Ohio. Mandatory Credit: Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/USA Today Network

(CNN) — At least six people are dead after a bus transporting students was involved in a multivehicle crash Tuesday morning on Interstate 70 in Etna, Ohio, Licking County’s emergency management director said.

The county emergency management agency is withholding information about whether the deceased are students or passengers from other vehicles, agency director Sean Grady said.

“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 state highway patrol.

DeWine earlier declined to comment on the number of deaths, saying police were in the process of notifying families.

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 students from the crash met their parents at a reunification center. He 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 contributed to this report.

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At least 6 dead after charter bus carrying students crashes on Interstate 70 in Ohio, official says