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Crime State police provide more details about turnpike tragedy

21:40  06 january  2020
21:40  06 january  2020 Source:   post-gazette.com

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Pennsylvania State Police have provided more details about the sequence of events that unfolded Sunday and resulted in the chain-reaction crash that killed five people and injured about 60 more on the turnpike in Mount Pleasant.

  State police provide more details about turnpike tragedy © Provided by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

However, the report did not say what caused the crash.

State police on Monday said a passenger bus, which was headed to Ohio from New York City, was traveling in the left lane when it struck the center median, veered right across the road, went up a steep embankment, rolled over and slid on its side back onto the roadway before coming to a rest against the center median.

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The bus, operated by Z&D Tour, was being driven by Shuang Qing Feng, 58, of Flushing, N.Y., who police said was ejected from the bus.

As the bus lay on its side and across both lanes, it was hit by a FedEx tractor-trailer.

That impact ejected 35-year-old Eileen Zelis Aria of Bronx, N.Y., and 9-year-old Jaremy Vazquez of Brooklyn. Both were passengers in the bus and both were killed, as was the bus driver.

Following that impact was a UPS tractor-trailer occupied by Dennis Kehler, 48, of Lebanon, Pa., and Daniel Kepner, 53, of Lewistown, Pa. The two, both UPS employees, were killed.

“UPS is cooperating with authorities in the investigation and we express our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families and friends,” UPS spokeswoman Kristen Petrella said Sunday in an emailed statement.

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A Mercedes then crashed into the UPS truck and was hit by a second UPS truck, pinning it between the two.

Police did not specify how many people were traveling in the Mercedes or the second UPS truck, but they said no one was injured in either vehicle.

The five victims were pronounced dead at the scene by the Westmoreland County coroner's office, police said.

The latest information does not address why the bus lost control.

On Sunday, authorities said they would investigate what type of road conditions existed during the crash, noting the unpredictability of weather in the region this time of year.

“The one thing about traveling through Pennsylvania is that we have changes in weather. It can be just because of our mountains, our hills, just the way that our elevation changes,” said state police Trooper Stephen Limani. “... We were told by some of the people who were driving that the weather did start to change — there was some precipitation that was coming down. I’m sure that could have played a factor, but we’re still early in our investigation right now.”

Trooper Limani said authorities also were looking for a data recorder on the bus that he said is comparable to the black box on an airplane. The data could provide information leading up to the crash.

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