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AREA NEWS Tusky Valley band students, teacher, parents killed in chain-reaction crash

DGKN staff report

Six people were killed in a crash Nov. 14 along Interstate 70 near state Route 310 involving a charter bus, two commercial vehicles and two passenger vehicles.

The charter bus was occupied by a driver and 54 students and chaperones from Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools.

Three of the passengers on the bus and three individuals in one of the passenger vehicles were pronounced deceased at the scene, according to a news release from the Granville post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the agency investigating the fatal crash.

The crash occurred in Etna Township in Licking County at 8:52 a.m. The news release dated Nov. 14 states investigation revealed the vehicles were all traveling westbound on I-70 when the chain-reaction crash occurred. At least three of the vehicles subsequently caught fire as a result of the crash, the news release states.

The release identifies the deceased as John W. Mosely, 18, of Mineral City; Jeffery D. Worrell, 18, of Bolivar; Katelyn N. Owens, 15, of Mineral City; and Dave Kennat, 56, of Navarre; Kristy Gaynor, 39, of Zoar; and Shannon Wigfield, 45, of Bolivar.

Twenty Tusky Valley students were transported with reported injuries to five Columbus-area hospitals, according to information posted by the school district.

Of the two commercial vehicles involved, one driver was transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the OSHP news release. The other driver was treated and released at the scene. The driver of the second passenger vehicle was also transported to an area hospital.

In a letter to Tusky Valley families and the community, Dr. Derek Varansky, the superintendent at Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools, shared on the school district’s Facebook page Nov. 14: “Our hearts are broken by the tragic accident that happened today involving members of our high school band on their way to perform at the Ohio School Boards Association conference.”

Varansky called the two seniors, J.D. Worrell and Wyatt Mosley, and sophomore Katelyn Owens, “bright lights, full of life, and who lost their lives way too young.”

He wrote in the letter that a car following the bus which contained one of the school district’s teachers and two parent chaperones was involved in the accident and all three lost their lives.

“There are no words for the magnitude of loss and grief felt by all of us,” the letter states.

Dave Kennat was a teacher at the high school, and Kristy Gaynor and Shannon Wigfield were parents and Wigfield also served as a teacher at Buckeye Career Center.

As of the Nov. 14 letter, 18 students were discharged from the hospital and released to parents.  Two remained hospitalized with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

“Following the accident, all of our uninjured students and directors were transported to a local church where students received care, counseling, and reunification began with families,” the letter states. “In the meantime, back in the district, counselors met with all of our middle-high school students to provide support.  All students were given the option to go home for the day.  At the conclusion of the school day, counselors and Sheriff Campbell met with all district staff to learn more and to grieve.”

Varansky stated in the letter that school would be in session the next day but the school would respect students and parents who wished to keep their children home.

“We do not want children home alone, yet we respect students and parents who wish for their child to remain at home,” he wrote. “Counselors and support staff from many community organizations and neighboring districts will be on site tomorrow to support students and staff as we grieve this loss.

“Thank you to the many school districts and community agencies near and far who reached out today to show their love and support for the TV district and are lifting our district up in their thoughts and prayers,” he continued.

“I encourage us to stay strong, united, and supportive of one another in the days and weeks to come.  Please keep the families in your thoughts and prayers. Please be in touch with any of us here at TV anytime if we can be of service or support to you and your family.

If you are struggling, please call the crisis hotline at 330-343-6631 or call or text the state helpline at 988.”

The crash remains under investigation, the OSHP news release states. Anyone who witnessed the crash is asked to contact the Ohio State Highway Patrol at (614) 466-2660.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol was assisted by Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp and Licking County deputies, Tuscarawas Sheriff Orvis Campbell and Tuscarawas County deputies, West Licking Fire Department and EMS, Licking County Coroner’s Office, Jae’s Towing, Ohio Department of Transportation, and multiple other agencies, the release states.

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