Six dead, 18 sent to hospitals after Ohio highway crash

By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) -Six people were killed and 18 others were injured on Tuesday in a fiery chain-reaction crash involving a charter bus, a tractor-trailer truck and three other vehicles on a highway in central Ohio, state police said.

The bus, carrying students and adult chaperones from the Tuscarawas Valley school district in eastern Ohio to an education conference, accounted for three of the dead and 16 of the injured, including the bus driver, according to Ohio highway patrol. The injured were all taken to area hospitals.

The three bus passengers who perished were students – two 18-year-old males and a 15-year-old girl. Also pronounced dead at the scene were all three adults who were riding in one of the two passenger cars involved in the wreck, the highway patrol said in a statement.

The driver of the second automobile was taken to a hospital, along with one of the two truck drivers. Another was treated at the scene and released, police said.

The crash occurred shortly before 9 a.m. local time on Interstate-70 near Etna Township, about 21 miles (34 km) east of Columbus, the state capital. At least three of the five vehicles involved caught fire, police said.

No details were given about the sequence of events. Police said the cause of the wreck was under investigation. From images of the crash scene, there was no sign that weather was a factor.

Local news media footage showed a large motor coach that appeared to have been struck from behind by a big-rig truck, the scorched wreckage of which was all that remained intact. A damaged sport utility vehicle was also visible beside the truck.

Some of the students on the bus were band members who were scheduled to perform at the Ohio School Boards Association convention, an annual event in Columbus featuring an education trade show and a “student achievement fair,” according to the organization’s website

The remainder of the conference, which opened on Sunday, was canceled after Tuesday’s accident, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; editing by Lincoln Feast and Raju Gopalakrishnan)