An Ohio high school is mourning the lives of students, parents and a teacher who were killed in a multi-vehicle crash on Tuesday that left six dead and 18 injured.
More than 50 students and chaperones from Tuscarawas Valley High School had been traveling on a charter bus for a band trip when it became entangled in a fiery wreck involving two other commercial vehicles and two passenger vehicles.
All six people who died were connected with the school.
The deceased included three students and band members who were on the bus. The Ohio State Highway Patrol identified them as John W. Mosely, 18, Jeffery D. Worrell, 18, and Katelyn N. Owens, 15.
Three adults — high school teacher Dave Kennat, 56, and parents Kristy Gaynor, 39, and Shannon Wigfield, 45 — were also killed. They had been following the bus in a car that became entangled in the collision.
Superintendent Derek Veransky addressed the community in a prayer vigil on Tuesday night.
"Today began as an exciting day as our high school band would travel to Columbus to present at the Ohio School Boards Association conference – a once-in-a-lifetime event," Veransky said. "And then it quickly turned into the darkest day, one of the darkest days in our district's history and the worst day of my life."
During the vigil, Mark Murphy, district director of operations at the school, praised two of the district's band directors, Merri Gensley and Stephen Tripp, whom he said acted as "heroes" in the aftermath of the crash, helping rescue students from the bus "one-by-one."
Following the crash, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the flags of the U.S. and the State of Ohio be flown at half-staff on select public buildings from sunrise on Nov. 15 until sunset on Nov. 18.
In honor of the lives of those killed in the Tuscarawas Valley Local School District bus crash, I have ordered the flags of the United States of America and the State of Ohio to be flown at half-staff upon all public buildings and grounds throughout Tuscarawas and Stark counties,…
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) November 15, 2023
"This is our worst nightmare when we have a bus full of children involved in a crash. It's certainly the worst nightmare that families can endure or a school can endure," the governor said at a news conference held near the crash site. "Our hearts go out, our prayers to all the families, all those who were on the bus, everyone who was involved in the accident."
Schools are open on Wednesday, but students and staff may stay home if they need to, Veransky said. Counseling services, support staff and other community organizations are available at the school.
An investigation into the crash remains ongoing.
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