LICKING COUNTY, Ohio — A charter bus carrying students from a northeast Ohio high school was rear-ended by a semi-truck on I-70 near state route 310 on Tuesday, leaving at least six people dead and 18 others injured, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. 

Among the deceased included three teens traveling on a charter bus from Tuscarawas Valley School District, as well as two chaperones and a faculty member who were traveling in a separate car.

What You Need To Know

  • The Ohio State Highway Patrol confirmed five vehicles were involved in the accident: a charter bus, two commercial vehicles and two passenger vehicles

  • The Tuscarawas Valley School District confirmed the charter bus was carrying 54 of their students and chaperones to the Ohio School Boards Association conference in Columbus

  • OSHP said three passengers on the bus were pronounced dead at the scene
  • Three individuals in one of the passenger vehicles were also pronounced dead at the scene

The charter bus was carrying 54 of Tusky Valley's students and chaperones to the Ohio School Boards Association conference in Columbus when the crash happened. The crash involved the charter bus, two commercial vehicles and two passenger vehicles, according to OSHP.

OSHP said three passengers on the bus were pronounced dead at the scene and were identified as John W. Mosely, 18, of Mineral City, Jeffery D. Worrell, 18, of Bolivar; and Katelyn N. Owens, 15, of Mineral City.

The two chaperones and faculty member in the separate vehicle were also pronounced dead at the scene and were identified as Dave Kennat, 56, of Navarre; Kristy Gaynor, 39, of Zoar; and Shannon Wigfield, 45, of Bolivar. 

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.

"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," said Tuscarawas Valley School District Superintendent Derek Varansky in a statement on Facebook. "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."

Both directions of Interstate 70 are closed in Licking County, Ohio, near the State Route 310 interchange after a fatal accident on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023. A charter bus carrying students from a high school was rear-ended by a semi-truck on the Ohio highway. (Barbara Perenic /The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

"Our hearts go out and our prayers to all the families, all those who were on the bus and all those involved in the accident," said Gov. Mike DeWine at the press conference.

The accident occurred at 8:52 a.m., according to OSHP. The cause is under investigation.

The bus was heading to the conference because the Tusky Valley band had been chosen to perform for a meeting of leaders of the Ohio School Boards Association during the conference. To be chosen, each group must submit audition tapes/videos for review, according to Jeff Chambers, director of Communication Services for the Ohio School Boards Association. 

State Rep. Brett Hillyer, R-Uhrichsville, released a statement following the accident. Hillyer represents the 51st district, which includes Tuscarawas County.

“My heart goes out to the victims, their families, and the entire Tuscy Valley High School community. I pray for all those affected by the tragic accident this morning," Hillyer said. "I am especially grateful for the service and dedication of the first responders. Please join me in keeping our Tuscarawas community in our thoughts and prayers.”

In a statement, Pioneer Trails, the charter bus company, confirmed there was an incident involving one of its buses Tuesday morning.

“Pioneer is fully cooperating with the authorities as we work to find the cause of the accident,” the company’s statement said. “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.”

The American Red Cross of Central and Southern Ohio said it fulfilled a request for more blood from one hospital in the area, sending 30 units to a hospital in the Mount Carmel Health System, said Marita Salkowski, regional communications director. A center was set up at a United Methodist Church in Etna for bus passengers not in need of medical attention to go to and contact loved ones, she said.

DeWine has ordered the U.S. flags and the State of Ohio flags to be flown at half-staff on all public buildings and grounds throughout Tuscarawas and Stark counties, at the Ohio Statehouse, Vern Riffe Center, and Rhodes Tower until sunset on Nov. 18. 

This is one of a handful of bus crashes in Ohio this year involving students. In August, a bus carrying Northwestern Local Schools students was hit by a 2010 Honda Odyssey. The bus overturned, leaving one student dead and 23 others injured. 

In mid-October, there was another bus crash in Perry Township, which injured one child. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.