3 students among 6 dead in fiery chain-reaction crash involving bus

A charter bus carrying 57 people was transporting students from a school in eastern Ohio.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 10:40 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2023 at 5:17 PM EST
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LICKING COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - Officials say the fatal bus crash in Licking County killed three students on a charter bus and three passengers in a car, according to a statement from the Ohio Highway State Patrol.

The OSHP said the chain-reaction accident involved a charter bus, two commercial vehicles and two passenger vehicles. At least three of the vehicles caught fire.

Three students on the bus from Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools were killed and pronounced dead at the scene:

  • John W. Mosley, 18
  • Jeffrey D. Worrell, 18
  • Katelyn Owens, 15

Fifty-four passengers were on the charter bus. Fifteen students were injured and taken to area hospitals. The rest of the students were taken to a reunification site.

The three dead in the car crash were riding in the same vehicle:

  • Dave Kennat, 56 of Navarre
  • Kristy Gaynor, 39, of Zoar
  • Shannon Wright, 45 of Bolivar

A driver of one of the commercial vehicles was taken to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. The other commercial driver was treated and released at the scene.

The crash occurred on westbound I-70 near Ohio 310 at 8:52 a.m.

Jennifer Homendey, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, said during a press conference Tuesday evening that they had heard conflicting information on the sequence of the crash.

She said the crash occurred as the bus approached a line of traffic from an earlier incident. An SUV, which was traveling with the bus en route to Columbus, along with a tractor-trailer behind the SUV.

A commercial vehicle and a car in front of the bus were also involved.

The bus was taking the Tuscawaras Valley High School Band to a performance at the Ohio School Boards Association meeting in Columbus on Tuesday. The meeting was canceled after the crash.

“I have devastating and heartbreaking news to report,” Tuscawaras Valley Local Schools Superintendent Dr. Derek Varansky wrote on Facebook. “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.”

3 people have been killed and 15 hospitalized following a crash between a semi and a charter...
3 people have been killed and 15 hospitalized following a crash between a semi and a charter bus in Licking County, Ohio.(Tuscarawas County Valley Schools Facebook page)

Gov. Mike DeWine called Tuesday’s events “the worst nightmare that families and schools can endure.”

Statement from Gov. DeWine:

“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. I am with @OSHP now, and we will provide updates when they are available.”

The governor later said students and those involved in the crash were taken to a reunification site that was set up. He said most of the families from the site have gone home.

I-70 eastbound reopened nearly eight hours after the crash.

Westbound, east of State Route 310, will remain closed so crews can repair pavement on the interstate, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The Associated Press obtained a statement from Pioneer Trails, the charter bus company, which reads:

“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.”

OSHP said they are continuing to investigate the crash.

DeWine ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of those killed in the crash.

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