A multi-vehicle accident involving a tour bus and three tractor-trailers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike killed five people and injured at least 60 others in the early morning hours Sunday.
Pennsylvania State Police said the tour bus was traveling in the westbound lanes of the turnpike on a downhill curve when it struck an embankment and flipped on its side. Aerial photographs of the crash show a Fed-Ex tractor-trailer and two other commercial trucks piled up alongside and behind the overturned bus. A passenger vehicle was also involved, authorities said.
The crash occurred in Mt. Pleasant Township east of Pittsburgh about 3:40 a.m. between the Breezewood (Exit 161) and New Stanton (Exit 75) interchanges, completely obstructing all westbound lanes. State Police closed all westbound and eastbound lanes of the turnpike for several miles between Eastbound New Stanton (exit 70) to Donegal (exit 91), and Westbound Breezewood (exit 161) to New Stanton (exit 70) to facilitate the emergency response.
Westmoreland County Coroner Ken Bacha confirmed that there were five deaths, according to The Tribune. At least 60 people were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment.
Authorities identified the five people killed in the pileup. They include tour bus passengers Jaremy Vazquez, 9, of Brooklyn and Eileen Zelis Aria, 35, of the Bronx. Bus driver Shuang Qing Feng, 58, of Queens, was also killed.
Two UPS employees from Pennsylvania were also killed. They were identified as Dennis Kehler, 53, and Daniel Kepner. According to CBS News New York, both men were in one of the tractor-trailers.
Pennsylvania State Police Spokesperson Stephen Limani told reporters the bus was traveling on a downhill stretch of the turnpike “but was unable to negotiate a corner.” The bus ran up an embankment and flipped onto its side. Two tractor-trailers struck the overturned bus and a third tractor-trailer and passenger vehicle collided with those trucks, authorities said.
Federal records list the operator of the bus as Z & D Tour, a company based out of a strip mall in East Rockaway, New Jersey. The bus tickets were sold out of the Ohio Coach office in Manhattan, according to CBS New York
Passengers boarded the tour bus at Canal Street in Manhattan and were headed to Cincinnati with scheduled stops in Miami Township, Vandalia, and Springfield, Ohio. There were 52 people on the bus.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records show Z & D Tour operates eight vehicles and employs 15 drivers. The company has been in business since 2012, its busses have not been involved in any traffic accidents and it has a satisfactory rating with federal regulators.
Chris Glover, a lawyer in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office, handles complex cases involving commercial vehicles including buses and 18-wheelers. He would be happy to talk with you about what to look for in a truck accident case.