ETNA, Ohio (WCMH) – Interstate 70 was shut down in both directions Tuesday in Licking County after a deadly crash involving a charter bus carrying high school students.
Three people died and 15 were injured, Licking County Emergency Management Agency director Sean Grady told the Associated Press, after a bus carrying band students and chaperones from Tuscarawas Valley High School was rear-ended by a semi-truck on I-70 West, near the Smoke Road underpass.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol said multiple injuries were reported in the crash, which occurred at about 8:15 a.m. They were taken to five area hospitals.
The charter bus was en route to the Ohio School Boards Association conference in Columbus.
Dr. Derek Varansky of The Tuscarawas Valley School District, located released the following statement:
“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.“
I-70 was closed eastbound at State Route 310 and westbound at State Route 158 near Kirkersville. Traffic was being forced to exit, with U.S. 40 running parallel to I-70 between the two exits.
Camera footage showed a large presence of emergency crews and at least one fire on the highway, approximately 26 miles east of Downtown Columbus.
At 10:30 a.m., two school buses were seen arriving at the scene, escorted by police. Several dozen people boarded the buses, which drove away about 20 minutes later. The Associated Press reported 57 total people were on board the charter bus.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol is expected to provide an update at some point.
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