‘Mass casualty’ crash kills 5, injures 60 on Pennsylvania Turnpike

Crash on Pennsylvania Turnpike kills at least 5, injures at least 60

MT. PLEASANT, Pa. — All directions of the Pennsylvania Turnpike were closed down early Sunday after a crash involving three semitrailers, a tour bus and several cars. Police said at least five people were killed and 60 people were taken to area hospitals.

The crash caused a tour bus to topple on its side. First responders are calling it a “mass casualty incident.” Several crash victims were taken to area hospitals, WPXI reported.

Here are the latest updates:

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Update 2:40 p.m. EST Jan. 6: Officials with UPS told WPXI that two of the company’s employees who were killed in Sunday’s crash were driving together in a tractor-trailer from Harrisburg.

“Sadly, UPS confirms the identities of two of our drivers who are victims of this tragic incident," company officials said in a statement. "Daniel Kepner, age 53, had 5 years of service, and, Dennis Kehler, age 48, had 28 years of service. Both were driving together in a tractor trailer vehicle out of our Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, operating center. Our drivers will be missed and our thoughts and prayers go out to their families. This is all of the information available at this time.”

The bus involved in the crash was operated by a company called Z & D Tour Inc., which advertises “daily express bus service” between New York, Columbus, Cincinnati, Lexington, Louisville, Dayton, Springfield, Vandalia and Wheeling.

Update 1:56 a.m. EST Jan. 6: The Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office released the identities of the five people who were killed in the Pa. Turnpike crash:

  • Shuang Qing Feng, 58 – Flushing, New York – Bus Driver
  • Eileen Zelis Aria, 35 – Bronx, New York – Bus Passenger
  • Jaremy Vazquez, 9 – Brooklyn, New York – Bus Passenger
  • Dennis L. Kehler, 48 – Lebanon, Pennsylvania – UPS Employee
  • Daniel J. Kepner, 53 – Lewistown, Pennsylvania – UPS Employee

The coroner’s office said Dr. Cyril Wecht and pathology associates will be performing the autopsies on Monday to confirm their causes of death.

Update 8:30 p.m. EST Jan. 5: All lanes of the Pennsylvania Turnpike opened up after a crash involving three semitrailers, a tour bus and a car, caused five deaths and 60 injuries, WPXI reported.

Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board held a news conference to provide updates Sunday afternoon.

Update 11:54 a.m. EST Jan. 5: Officials with the Pennsylvania State Police said the tour bus was traveling downhill on a curve and hit an embankment. The UPS and FedEx trucks, and the passenger car behind the bus, then hit it, WPXI reported.

Update 10:40 a.m. EST Jan. 5: The bus involved in the crash was operated by a company called Ohio Coach, which advertises “daily express bus service” between New York, Columbus, Cincinnati, Lexington, Louisville, Dayton, Springfield, Vandalia and Wheeling. The semitrailers involved were from UPS, and two from FedEx.

A spokesman for FedEx sent a statement to WPXI:

“First and foremost we extend our deepest condolences to the families of the individuals involved in this accident. There is no higher priority for FedEx Ground than safety, and we are cooperating fully with investigating authorities at this time.”

In addition to the 25 patients taken to Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant, 11 people were taken to Forbes Hospital in Monroeville, WPXI reported. Two were in critical condition; the others were in fair condition and ranged in age from 15 to 67 years old, the television station reported.

Update 9:30 a.m. EST Jan. 5: According to authorities, 25 of the 60 people injured Sunday were taken to Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant. Victims ranged in age from 7 to 52 years old, WPXI reported. Nine of the patients were under the age of 18, the television station reported.

Update 8:50 a.m. EST Jan. 5: Carl DeFebo, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike, said “about 60 people” were taken to three hospitals in Westmoreland County and confirmed there were five fatalities. In a tweet, DeFebo said the crash closed down an 86-mile stretch of the turnpike.

Update 8:39 a.m. EST Jan. 5: Emergency crews said five people were killed and over 50 people were taken to area hospitals with injuries, WPXI reported.

Original report: The National Transportation Safety Board is sending investigators to the crash scene in Mt. Pleasant, between the New Stanton and Donegal exits.

Traffic is being detoured off the Turnpike at Exit 75.

The Westmoreland County coroner is also en route to the scene.

Emergency officials told WPXI that weather was not a factor in the crash.

A separate crash on Interstate 70 has all lanes also closed near the Smithton Exit on Sunday morning.

Dispatch workers said there were people injured in that crash.