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OSHP report states semi followed vehicle too closely in Licking County crash that killed 6 people

A dash camera on a Ohio State Highway Patrol vehicle shows the fiery crash on I-70 in Licking County in November 2023.
Courtesy of the Ohio State Highway Patrol
A dash camera on a Ohio State Highway Patrol vehicle shows the fiery crash on I-70 in Licking County in November 2023. The crash killed 6 people in two vehicles traveling from the Tuscawaras Valley School District to the Convention Center in Columbus.

Crash investigators believe a semi was following a Nissan Murano too closely prior to a crash that killed three high school students and three adults from Tuscarawas County earlier this month.

An Ohio State Highway Patrol report released Monday evening revealed more details about the five-vehicle crash on Nov. 14, including the sequence of events that led to the fatal accident. Dash camera and body camera footage also gave the perspective of OSHP Trooper Shawn Grim, who responded to the crash around 8:52 a.m. that day.

The report states the chain of vehicles traveling in front of the semi all began braking and the truck crashed into the Murano that was in front of it, overriding it. The truck then crashed into the Pioneer Trails charter bus causing a fire in both vehicles; the bus crashed into a Toyota Highlander in front of it making it veer into the left lane; and the bus then rear-ended another semi-truck that was leading the chain of cars. That semi was only traveling 10 mph as the vehicles were approaching the scene of another crash that occurred an hour before.

Three occupants of the first passenger car that was traveling with the charter bus died in the crash. Three Tusky Valley students aboard the charter bus also died in the crash.

Those who died have been identified as:

  • John W. Mosley, 18, of Mineral City
  • Jeffery D. Worrell, 18, of Bolivar
  • Katelyn N. Owens, 15, of Mineral City
  • Dave Kennat, 56, of Navarre
  • Kristy Gaynor, 39, of Zoar
  • Shannon Wigfield, 45, of Bolivar

OSHP Lieutenant Nathan Dennis told WOSU the second crash that occurred an hour before caused a slowdown in traffic and was about a mile ahead of this fatal crash. Both lanes of traffic were open and the 4 vehicles involved in that second crash were moved off to the left side of the highway into the median.
No injuries were reported in that crash.

The body camera footage released Monday showed that when the Grim arrived on scene, he immediately asked other responding officers if everyone was off the bus. The other officers told Grim there might still be kids on the bus but they couldn't get to them.

The trooper radioed it in and grabbed a fire extinguisher from his vehicle. But as Grim ran toward the bus, other people who got out of their cars to help told the trooper there was still a person inside the Toyota Highlander that was struck and was in the left lane. Grim pulled that man out of the vehicle and directed other people to bring him to safety.

Grim then headed to the bus and entered it. The back of the bus was still ablaze and Grim yelled, calling out for any other occupants in the bus and used the fire extinguisher. After about a minute, Grim exited the bus and asked people to find the bus driver and get a head count for people who were on the bus.

Grim later told another man, "I went back there as far as I could. I couldn't see anything but that fire."

As Grim walked around the scene of the crash, he talked to several people who said they had broken legs and ankles and was told someone was receiving CPR and that another person couldn't feel their legs.

The report stated none of the drivers were under the influence of drugs or alcohol or were distracted.

The report also stated the rear semi was owned by Mid-State Systems in Hebron and was traveling from Topton, Pennsylvania to the East Liberty, Ohio Honda Plant. The report stated it was carrying 420 non-hazardous, non-spillable batteries.

OHSP and the National Safety Transportation Board are investigating the crash and no charges have been filed as of Tuesday.

Dennis said this crash report is still preliminary and crash reconstruction investigators and the NTSB are still working on separate reports. He said OSHP is actively working with prosecutors on this case.

This is a developing story.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.