(The Center Square) – The federal government plans to begin its investigation today into a Tuesday interstate crash involving a charter bus carrying high school band members and a tractor-trailer that killed six people.
It’s the second time the National Transportation and Safety Board has come to Ohio this year for a major investigation, following the February train derailment in East Palestine.
NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said investigations of these events typically last 12-18 months, but a preliminary report is expected within a few weeks.
NTSB expects to be on the scene for five to seven days with a team that includes nine investigators and two others working with families and survivors.
“We have heard conflicting information about the sequence of events, so that’s something we’ll have to determine,” Homendy said.
Five vehicles — including the motorcoach carrying 54 students and chaperones, two commercial vehicles and two passenger vehicles — were involved in the crash on Interstate 70 westbound near Etna in Licking County.
The bus carried Tuscarawas Valley High School band members on their way to perform at the Ohio School Board Association conference in Columbus.
Three band members on the bus were pronounced dead at the scene, along with three chaperones following the bus in the SUV, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol.
Homendy said the vehicles involved in the crash approached a line of cars slowed by an earlier accident on I-70, with the bus in the lead, followed by an SUV, another passenger vehicle and the two commercial vehicles.
A total of 15 students and the bus driver were taken to Columbus-area hospitals, and the rest of the students were taken to a reunification site, according to the patrol.
One commercial vehicle driver was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and the other was treated at the scene. The driver of the second passenger vehicle was also taken to the hospital.