6 Dead and 18 Injured After Bus Carrying Students Crashes

(ReliableNews.org) – Every time a person gets into a vehicle, there’s a chance they could be in a severe accident. There were almost 40,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents in the US in 2021. Those crashes left 42,939 people dead. Recently, a semi-truck crash added half a dozen people to 2023’s traffic fatality statistics.

On November 14, the Ohio State Patrol issued a press release about a traffic collision in Etna Township in Licking County. According to law enforcement, a charter bus, two passenger vehicles, a tractor-trailer, and another commercial vehicle were traveling westbound when a crash happened. The accident caused three of the vehicles to catch on fire and one of them was sandwiched between the bus and a commercial vehicle.

The charter bus was carrying 57 people, including band members and chaperones, from Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools. They were headed to the Ohio School Boards Association conference in Columbus, according to Superintendent Derek Varansky. The conference was canceled after the accident.

At least three of the students on the bus died in the accident. The State Police identified them as 18-year-old Jeffery D. Worrell, 18-year-old John W. Mosely, and 15-year-old Katelyn N. Owens. Fifteen students and bus driver, Don Wagler, were taken to area hospitals for treatment. Ellen Wagler, the driver’s wife, told the local news that her husband said his first reaction after the accident was to open the bus doors so everyone could escape.

One of the passenger vehicles was carrying chaperones and a teacher. All three people in that car, 45-year-old Shannon Wigfield, 56-year-old Dave Kennat, and 39-year-old Kristy Gaynor, died.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident. Officials said that an earlier car accident might have played a role in the crash. Chairperson Jennifer Homendy said the tractor-trailer rear-ended the charter bus in the accident. However, they aren’t sure of the exact chain of events yet.

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