PENNSYLVANIA — A massive pileup involving three tractor-trailers, a tour bus and passenger cars killed five people and injured at least 60 others in western Pennsylvania Sunday morning, authorities said.
The crash happened around 3:34 a.m. on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Mount Pleasant Township southeast of Pittsburgh, the Westmoreland County Department of Public Safety said.
The bus was traveling on a downhill grade when it failed to negotiate a corner, went up an embankment and rolled over, Pennsylvania State Police spokesman Stephen Limani said at a news conference.
The overturned bus was struck by two tractor-trailers, which in turn were hit by a third tractor-trailer, Limani said. A passenger vehicle was then involved in the crash, he said.
The tour bus was traveling from New Jersey to Cincinnati and most of its passengers spoke Japanese or Spanish, he said. Translators are helping the victims communicate with law enforcement and the hospitals.
Authorities said that section of the turnpike remains closed to traffic in both directions but they hope to reopen it before the end of the day.
Around 60 people were taken to hospitals
The five people killed were found dead at the scene, county coroner Ken Bacha said. Authorities haven’t said what vehicles they were riding in.
About 60 patients were taken to three area hospitals, Pennsylvania Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said.
Excela Frick Hospital received 25 patients ranging from ages 7 to 52, spokeswoman Robin Jennings said. She said nine of the patients are children.
Eleven patients aged 15 to 67 were taken to Forbes Hospital in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, hospital spokeswoman Stephanie Waite said. Two patients were in critical condition and nine were in fair condition, Waite said.
UPMC Somerset received 18 patients — 12 adults and six children, hospital spokesperson Sarah Deist told CNN. All 18 were treated and released, she said.
The NTSB will investigate
The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team of more than a dozen people to the crash site to investigate, the agency announced in a tweet.
Some of the people at the scene described a change in weather prior to the crash, including precipitation, Limani said.
“We are so early in our investigation it’s hard to pinpoint anything specific,” Limani said.
Pennsylvania Turnpike Public Information Manager Rene Colborne said the speed limit is 70 mph in the crash area. The road conditions seemed to be “fine” and the roads are treated 24/7, she said.
Images of the crash site show the tour bus lying on its side, with several damaged tractor-trailers, including a FedEx truck, splayed around it across the roadway.
FedEx spokeswoman Allie Addoms provided this statement: “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.”
A UPS spokesperson said that one of their vehicles was involved in the crash and issued the following statement: “UPS is cooperating with authorities in the investigation and we express our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families and friends.”
Major pileups have occurred on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the past. In February 2014, 100 vehicles were involved in a massive wreck north of Philadelphia that injured at least 30 people.