NTSB Turnpike Crash

This aerial photograph of the Jan. 5 multi-vehicle crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Mount Pleasant Township was part of the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report on the collision that killed five people. (Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania State Police)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report on the Pennsylvania Turnpike crash that killed five people and injured dozens last month.

The crash, which occurred at 3:30 a.m. Jan. 5 in Mount Pleasant Township, involved a tour bus, multiple tractor-trailers and a passenger vehicle.

The report stated that the sequence of the crash started when the tour bus, carrying 61 passengers, veered toward the median while descending a 3% slope and moving through a left curve in the westbound lane. The report noted that while the speed limit is generally 70 mph, there was a warning of the curve and a reduced speed of 55 mph.

The tour bus went onto the paved left shoulder, then veered toward the right, crossed all travel lanes to the right shoulder, and collided with the steep earthen embankment, according to the report.

The bus rolled onto its passenger side and slid to a stop, stretched diagonally across the westbound lanes and shoulders. Its underside was facing oncoming traffic, the report stated.

A FedEx Ground tractor-trailer hit the bus and then came to rest blocking the left lane and the median shoulder. Both of those vehicles were then hit by a UPS tractor-trailer traveling westbound, according to the NTSB.

A 2007 Mercedes-Benz car occupied by three people tried to avoid the collision by steering off the road and slid to a stop next to the UPS tractor-trailer, but a second UPS truck swerved right to avoid the crash, and hit the car, the report noted.

As a result of the crash, the bus driver and two bus passengers as well as the driver and passenger in the first UPS truck died.

At the time of the crash, police said 59 bus passengers and the FedEx truck passenger were injured.

The report noted that light snow was falling and the road had been treated with salt.

All aspects of the crash remain under investigation while the NTSB continues to investigate. The report noted that the board is gathering records on the commercial drivers involved, as well as looking at various other practices and procedures.

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