Ohio bus crash: Updates on deadly I-70 crash between bus and semi

A charter bus carrying Tuscarawas Valley High School band members as well as a vehicle with three chaperones were involved in the Licking County crash.

LICKING COUNTY, Ohio — As new details emerge in the deadly I-70 crash in Central Ohio, we are posting the latest updates throughout the story below…

What we know

The Licking County crash involved five vehicles — including a semi and a charter bus that was carrying students and chaperones from the Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools. The bus was on its way to the Ohio School Boards Association conference in Columbus when the crash occurred at approximately 8:52 a.m. near the Smoke Road underpass. 

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that six people have died as a result of the crash. Three of them were passengers on the charter bus and students at Tuscarawas Valley High School:

  • Wyatt Mosely, 18, Mineral City
  • Jeffery “J.D.” Worrell, 18, Bolivar
  • Katelyn Owens, 15, Mineral City

One of the passenger vehicles involved in the crash was occupied by three people. All three were pronounced dead at the scene and were identified as Dave Kennat, 56, Navarre; Kristy Gaynor, 39, Zoar; and Shannon Wigfield, 45, Bolivar.

According to online records, Kennat was a match teacher as Tusky Valley High School, while Wigfield taught English at the nearby Buckeye Valley Career Center.

The OSHP reports that there were a total of 19 injuries (18 hospitalizations) as a result of the crash. Fifteen students and the bus driver were transported to area hospitals. The rest of the students were taken to a reunification site. 

Of the two commercial vehicles involved, one driver was transported to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. The other was treated and released at the scene. The driver of the second passenger vehicle was also transported to an area hospital.

The OSHP says all of the vehicles involved were heading west on I-70 when the chain reaction crash happened. At least three of the vehicles caught on fire as a result. 

There were a total of 55 people on board the bus, including the driver and 54 students and chaperones.

Additional updates below… Be sure to refresh this story frequently as we will add new details as they develop.

11:10 p.m. — Community mourns

Neil Fischer has more from tonight’s vigil as members of the Tuscarawas Valley school district grieve the loss of three students, two parents, and a teacher.

“Trying to make some balance in the world on a day that seems totally unbalanced,” boys varsity golf coach Darrell Markijohn said as he helped light hundreds of candles along Main Street in Zoar.

11:05 p.m. — Bus driver’s daughter speaks

3News’ Lydia Esparra spoke with the daughter of Don Wagler, the driver of the Pioneer Trails bus involved in the crash. Valerie Wichert says her father is recovering at a Columbus hospital.

10 p.m. — Statement from superintendent

In a letter to Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools parents and families that he read at tonight’s vigil, Superintendent Dr. Derek Varansky shared more information on today’s tragedy:

“Our hearts are broken by the tragic accident that happened today involving members of our high school band on their way to perform at the Ohio School Boards Association conference. We are saddened to share that we lost three students in the accident, students who were bright lights, full of life, and who lost their lives way too young.

“In addition, a car following the bus which contained one of our teachers and two parent chaperones was involved in the accident. Tragically, all three lost their lives. There are no words for the magnitude of loss and grief felt by all of us.

“Those lost in today’s tragedy include senior J.D. Worrell, senior Wyatt Mosley, and sophomore Katelyn Owens as well as high school teacher Dave Kennat, and parents Kristy Gaynor, and Shannon Wigfield, who also served as a teacher at Buckeye Career Center.

“Twenty of our students were transported with reported injuries to five different Columbus-area hospitals. As of this notification, 18 of those children have been discharged from the hospital and released to parents. Two of our students remain hospitalized with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.  

“Following the accident, all of our uninjured students and directors were transported to a local church where students received care, counseling, and reunification began with families. In the meantime, back in the district, counselors met with all of our middle-high school students to provide support. All students were given the option to go home for the day. At the conclusion of the school day, counselors and Sheriff Campbell met with all district staff to learn more and to grieve.

“Though difficult, school will be in session tomorrow. We do not want children home alone, yet we respect students and parents who wish for their child to remain at home. Counselors and support staff from many community organizations and neighboring districts will be on site tomorrow to support students and staff as we grieve this loss.

“Thank you to the many school districts and community agencies near and far who reached out today to show their love and support for the TV district and are lifting our district up in their thoughts and prayers.

“I encourage us to stay strong, united, and supportive of one another in the days and weeks to come. Please keep the families in your thoughts and prayers. Please be in touch with any of us here at TV anytime if we can be of service or support to you and your family.  

“If you are struggling, please call the crisis hotline at 330-343-6631 or call or text the state helpline at 988.”

8:30 p.m. — NTSB briefing

National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy held a briefing in Columbus to share her agency’s initial steps regarding its investigation of the crash.

8 p.m. — A look back at Tuesday via our photo gallery

7:30 p.m. — NTSB schedules 8:30 p.m. briefing in Columbus

Leaders from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will hold a media briefing tonight at 8:30 p.m. on its investigation into the fatal I-70 crash in Licking County. The briefing will be held in the ticketing lobby of John Glenn Columbus International Airport. 3News will stream the briefing live in this story and on our YouTube page. 

7:20 p.m. — Vigil underway at Tuscarawas Valley High School

Hundreds of mourners are in attendance at Tuscarawas Valley High School following the fatal crash involving a charter bus that was carrying students and chaperones. 

During the vigil, Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools Superintendent Dr. Derek Varansky announced that three students were killed this morning, along with three parents/chaperones.

You can watch in the player below.

7:05 p.m. — Update from Ohio State Highway Patrol includes victim identification

The Ohio State Highway Patrol has issued a release with additional information about today’s fatal crash in Licking County, including the identification of the six victims who were killed.

Three of the passengers on the bus were pronounced dead at the scene. They have been identified as John W. Mosely, 18, Mineral City, Jeffery D. Worrell, 18, Bolivar, and Katelyn N. Owens, 15, Mineral City. 

One of the other vehicles involved in the crash had three fatal victims. They have been identified as Dave Kennat, 56, Navarre, Kristy Gaynor, 39, Zoar, and Shannon Wigfield, 45, Bolivar.

7 p.m. — Candles light up Zoar street in anticipation of vigil

Our photojournalist George Payamgis captured this video of the candles lining the streets of Zoar as the town prepares for tonight’s vigil at Tuscarawas Valley High School. 

6:30 p.m. — Statements of sympathy from area colleges

Several of the Tuscarawas Valley High School students involved in the crash in Licking County also attended Kent State Tuscarawas College and the Buckeye Career Center. Both institutions released statements.

From Kent State Tuscarawas Dean Bradley Bielski:

Earlier today, a horrific crash occurred on I-70. The crash involved a semi-truck, several vehicles and a school bus containing students from Tusky Valley. Several of the students also attend Buckeye Career Center. At least two of the students are College Credit Plus Students at Kent State Tuscarawas. We do not have confirmation of the details, but we know there are fatalities and serious physical injuries. In addition, there is emotional trauma being experienced by those directly involved, and by their classmates, families, and friends. Tonight, I will be praying for all of those experiencing the grief that accompanies such a tragedy. Please be mindful of this terrible incident as we move forward into the days and weeks to come. I have offered our complete assistance in any way possible to our friends at Buckeye and Tusky Valley. If you or someone you know needs support, please contact Laurie Donley, who will help direct you to the proper office.

From Buckeye Career Center:

“Our Buckeye Career Center family extends our deepest sympathies to our partner school, Tusky Valley, and the TV community following today’s tragedy. We are all Tusky Valley Trojans today and stand firm in support of their students, staff, and families. Because of this incident’s far-reaching impacts, counselors and support staff will be at Buckeye Career Center on Wednesday and throughout the week for any student or staff member whom this tragedy has touched.

“Additionally, we are postponing our remaining sophomore visitation days and our open house. We hope to release new dates in the coming weeks. Please keep Tusky Valley and our BCC family in your thoughts and prayers as we heal together.”

6 p.m. — Team coverage of the crash on 3News at 6

Matt Rascon, Kaitor Kay, Neil Fischer, and Danielle Wiggins have team coverage of the fatal crash on I-70, including reporting from Tuscarawas Valley High School, site of tonight’s prayer vigil.

5:30 p.m. — More about tonight’s vigil at Tuscarawas Valley High School

Lockport Brewery in Bolivar has posted the following on its Facebook page: “There are no words for the heartbreak our community is feeling. If anyone in our Tusky Valley family needs a place to be together after tonight’s 7p prayer vigil at the stadium, we are opening the taproom to all for drink service. We are accepting donations ONLY. 100% will be donated to the families of those affected.”

5:25 p.m. — Charter bus involved in crash removed from scene

Our Matt Rascon captured this video of the Pioneer Trails bus that was rear ended by a semi earlier today.

5:15 p.m. — Licking County EMA reports death toll rises to six

Licking County Emergency Management Direction Sean Grady tells 3News’ Lydia Esparra and Matt Rascon that there are now six fatalities as a result of this morning’s crash on I-70.

5:08 p.m. — ODOT reopens I-70 eastbound in Licking County

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, crews are still cleaning up the crash scene on westbound I-70 east of SR 310. While the westbound lanes will remain closed while pavement damage is repaired, eastbound has now reopened.

4:54 p.m. — NTSB en route to crash scene in central Ohio

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) put out the following on X (formerly Twitter):

“The NTSB, in coordination with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, is sending a team to conduct a safety investigation into today’s multivehicle crash on Interstate 70 near Etna, Ohio. NTSB Chair Homendy and a team of investigators are expected to arrive in Ohio this evening.”

4:47 p.m. — Preparations underway for vigil in Tusky Valley

4:20 p.m. — 3News reporters check in from the field

Matt Rascon reports live from near the scene of the crash in Etna. 

Meanwhile, Kaitor Kay is live from Tuscarawas Valley High School for the latest on how the community is coping with the tragedy.

4:00 p.m. — Vigil scheduled for tonight in Tuscarawas Valley

According to the Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools Facebook page, a prayer vigil is set for tonight at 7 p.m. at the district’s stadium. 

2:45 p.m. — Members of Congress give statements

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) tweeted out the following: “We’re still waiting for more info, but the early reports coming out of Licking County are horrible. Our hearts are with the Tuscarawas Valley students, chaperones, and their families. My thanks to the first responders for arriving at the scene quickly.”

Brown’s counterpart, U.S. Sen. JD Vance (R-OH), also reacted to the fatal crash. 

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH-6) represents the Tuscarawas Valley and added the following:

Earlier today, Rep. Troy Balderson (R-OH-12), who represents Licking County, posted the below statement:

2:32 p.m. — Update from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, OSHP, and ODOT

DeWine says officials have set up a reunification center on site. Students from Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools are starting to leave the scene and are going home with their families. The governor has ordered flags in Stark and Tuscarawas County, as well as at the Ohio Statehouse to fly at half-staff. 

Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Nathan Dennis confirms that people were killed in the crash and said “18 people were taken from the bus (overall),” including 15 children, but he declined to specify how many deaths had occurred and declined further comment since authorities were still notifying the victims’ families.

ODOT’s Matt Bruning says I-70 in both directions remains closed. Westbound traffic is being diverted at SR 37 and eastbound traffic at SR 310. This closure is expected to remain in place for several hours. 

Dennis added that no more briefings are expected to be held on Tuesday. Additional information is expected to come from news releases.

12:36 p.m. — Statement from bus company Pioneer Trails

Pioneer Transportation 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.

12:30 p.m. — Update from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and ODOT

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gave the following statement during a brief press conference:

“This is our worst nightmare when we have a bus full of children involved in a crash. It certainly is the worst nightmare that families can endure or a school can endure.”

Matt Bruning of the Ohio Department of Transportation said the traffic detours impacting I-70 will remain in place for “several hours.” Here’s a portion of his statement:

“Very sad day here in Ohio. Our thoughts at ODOT are with everybody involved in this. The traffic situation is going to remain in effect for quite some time. I-70 eastbound traffic right now is being diverted off here at state Route 310. You can either go north to US 30 or south to 204. If you’re heading westbound, the traffic is being diverted off right now at state Route 158 – however, we do have a secondary crash that is complicating that at state route 37. So for the time being, we’re asking everyone to use state Route 79. They are working on clearing that crash up, so soon we will get that 158 detour up and running.”

11:42 a.m. — Ohio School Boards Association issues statement

Today, a charter bus carrying Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools students and chaperones on the way to the annual OSBA conference was involved in a very serious accident including multiple serious injuries according to law enforcement.

Given this devastating news, we have canceled our conference. Right now, our focus is on providing support to Tuscarawas Valley. That includes making grief counselors from our trade show available.

We are praying for the entire Tuscarawas Valley family.  

11:15 a.m. — Statement issued from Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools

The district shared the following statement on their Facebook page:

Dear Tusky Valley School Community,

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 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.

https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/local/ohio/deadly-ohio-crash-i-70-updates-tuscarawas-valley-local-schools-charter-bus-semi-governor-mike-dewine/95-a6f0f4e2-9222-401c-b865-e42d9016f0a3 Ohio bus crash: Updates on deadly I-70 crash between bus and semi

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