TUSCARAWAS COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – The National Transportation Safety Board is documenting the site of the deadly bus crash that killed six people from Tuscarawas County. Officials say it could be several weeks before we know the exact cause. The investigation continues as a community is coming to grips with their devastating loss.
We know five vehicles were involved. Investigators say the bus filled with high school students and an SUV with a teacher and two chaperones had slowed down on I-70 because of a separate accident involving another commercial vehicle when a semi came up from behind.
The chairperson of the NTSB says that nine investigators were out at the crash scene on I-70 West in Licking County. The stretch where it happened reopened Wednesday and over the next few days investigators will document the site to try and figure out exactly what caused this tragedy.
A preliminary report could take another two or three weeks with the final report from the NTSB not coming for at least a year.
Meanwhile, the Tuscarawas Valley Local School District is expressing gratitude for the outpouring of love and support. In a statement, school officials said:
The Tuscarawas Valley Local School District is extremely grateful for the outpouring of love and support shown to us from those across our nation. While we cannot respond to each message right now, your words mean so much.
Our immediate focus is supporting our students, staff, and families. We are working closely with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Franklin and Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office, and the ADAMHS Board to equip our community in navigating these difficult times. Each of these organizations have provided highly skilled counselors, officers, and chaplains to provide grief and trauma counseling to our Trojan family. We will continue to lean in on these services for the forseeable future.
Please join us in linking arms with those who have experienced the greatest of loss and continue to pray for emotional healing and restoration for all of our students, staff and community at large.
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We’re also learning more about the six people killed.
Kristy Gaynor, 39, was known as a frequent band chaperone and mother of three children. Dave Kennat, 56, was a math teacher described by students as incredibly enthusiastic, kind, and compassionate. Shannon Wigfield, 45, will be remembered for her loving smile and positive attitude.
Then there were the three marching band students. John Mosely, 18, was a great drum player and welcoming and funny. Fellow senior classmate, Jeffery Worrell, 18, will be remembered as a kind and outgoing person. And the youngest death in the accident, Katelyn Owens, 15, was a hard-working clarinet playing sophomore in the band.
We also have an update on the bus driver, Don Wagler. Don’s wife, Ellen Wagler, tells FOX 8’s Stefani Schaefer that her husband is sitting up and eating but is not able to get up yet. She says he was a hero because the first thing he did after the crash was open the door for the students. A few minutes later and the door would not have opened anymore.
There were also twenty band members on the bus who were sent to the hospital. Eighteen of them have been released.
The Tuskey Valley community is trying to come to grips with their loss. People showed up in droves at Bolivar’s Pizza Wednesday night. Seventy-five percent of the proceeds were benefiting the high school band.
“I have goosebumps,” said volunteer Allison Meechan. “You can see that we are all representing Tusky Valley. The community is coming out big and that’s what is getting everyone through.”
Classmates of the victims were some of those waiting in line at Bolivar’s.
“It’s crazy that something like that could happen to people we know,” said Drew Congdon, who is a classmate of the victims. “We see it all the time but it’s nowhere close to where it hits home.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up.