A semi-truck rear-ended a charter bus carrying high school students on an Ohio highway Tuesday morning, killing at least six and leaving 15 injured, according to an emergency official.. The incident, involving five vehicles, took place just before 9 am on Interstate 70 West in Licking County, near the Smoke Road underpass.
Three of the dead were students from Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools in Zoarville, while the other three were adult staff members traveling in a separate vehicle. The vehicles were en route to an Ohio School Boards Association conference in Columbus, where the high school band had a scheduled performance. The bus was carrying a total of 57 people.
Horror on Highway
Students John W. Mosley, 18, Jeffrey D. Worrell, 18, and Katelyn Owens, 15, all from Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools, died at the crash site.
The three adults who were all occupants of the same vehicle have been identified as school staff members. Their names are Dave Kennat, 56, Kristy Gaynor, 39, and Shannon Wright, 45.
Law enforcement reported that fifteen students were rushed to the hospital following the accident, and at least two other people sustained injuries.
The bus, operated by Pioneer Trails, was transporting members of the Tuscarawas Valley High School band to Columbus for a scheduled performance at the Ohio School Boards Association's annual convention this week.
Among the occupants during the crash were parents and teachers.
Several of the injured were transported to hospitals in Columbus, including Grant Hospital, Mount Carmel East, and Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Chris McNeal, a trucker, described the accident as "catastrophic" in an interview with the local ABC affiliate WSYX.
"They had a ladder up in one window. It looked like they were in the rear of the bus trying to pull a couple people off," he said.
"One tractor-trailer is completely burned through; there's a car that's completely destroyed and burned through."
School Mourns Deaths
Superintendent Derek Varansky said in a Facebook post that the school's 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."
One of the victims, Mosley, who went by Wyatt, was named the Fine Arts Student of the Month just last month.
His profile on the student website highlighted that the 18-year-old was actively involved in various activities, including the TVHS Marching Band, Select Choir, Drama Club, and Track team. Additionally, he had recently been chosen to take part in the Ohio Music Educators Association All-State Choir.
"His hobbies include singing, programming & exercising. After graduation, Wyatt plans to take a gap year to pursue a career in acting and then go to college for computer programming," the school wrote.
Worrell, known as JD, earned the Fine Art accolade in May. Described as a member of the TVHS Marching & Concert Bands, Select Choir, Drama Club, Speech & Debate team, and the Pep Club, he had diverse interests.
Worrell aspired to pursue a major in psychology and vocal music. Alternatively, he expressed an interest in finding employment in the field of voice-overs or voice acting.
Sean Grady, the director of the Licking County Emergency Management Agency, said that the charter bus involved in the incident was carrying students from an eastern Ohio school, with a total of 57 people on board.
Visuals from the scene depict the rear of the bus entirely consumed by flames.
Out of the 18 injured, 15 are believed to be juveniles. Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools expressed concern about potential "serious injuries" among the students.
Images captured by traffic cameras and shared by the Ohio Department of Transportation provide a glimpse of the emergency response at the scene.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine released a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.
"Fran and I are praying for everyone involved in the bus crash east of Columbus today. It is our worst nightmare to have a bus full of children involved in such a terrible crash, and it is certainly the worst nightmare that families and schools can endure," he wrote.
"I am with [Ohio State Highway Patrol] now, and we will provide updates when they are available."
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has announced its collaboration with the highway patrol and is dispatching a team to conduct an investigation into the crash.