All Five Victims Killed in Pennsylvania Crash Identified, Including a 9-Year-Old Girl

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
January 6, 2020US News

A 9-year-old New York girl was among the five people killed in a crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike that also injured at least 60 people, authorities said Monday.

Meanwhile, authorities continue to investigate the cause of the crash that happened early Sunday on a mountainous and rural stretch of the highway about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh.

A loaded bus lost control on a hill along the highway, setting off a chain reaction that involved three tractor-trailers and a passenger car.

The crash shut down the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which is also I-76, for a 90-mile stretch for most of the day Sunday.

All five victims have now been identified by police.

Three victims are from New York City: the 58-year-old bus driver, Shuang Qing Feng, of Queens, and two passengers, Eileen Zelis Aria, 35, of the Bronx, and 9-year-old Jaremy Vazquez, of Brooklyn, according to the Westmoreland County coroner’s office.

Two UPS drivers, Daniel Kepner, 53, and Dennis Kehler, 48, were also killed in the crash. They were driving together in a tractor-trailer out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

“UPS is cooperating with authorities in the investigation and we express our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families and friends,” a UPS spokesperson said in a statement.

NTD Photo

At least 60 people were transported to local hospitals with a range of injuries.

Excela Frick Hospital received 25 patients ranging from ages 7 to 52, spokeswoman Robin Jennings said. She said nine of the patients were children.

UPMC Somerset received 18 patients consisting of 12 adults and six children, hospital spokeswoman Sarah Deist said. They were treated and released, she said.

Eleven patients, ranging from 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.

Authorities said Sunday all of the patients were expected to survive.

The cause of the crash is still unknown, and Pennsylvania State Police spokesman Stephen Limani said it could take weeks or months to determine.

NTSB is Investigating

The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigation will focus on roadway design, driver performance, motor carrier compliance, and survival factors, NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy told reporters late Sunday.

Some of the people at the scene described a change in weather prior to the crash, including precipitation, Limani said.

Emergency crews respond to a fatal crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Mount Pleasant Township early on Jan. 5, 2020. (WPIX TV via AP)
Pennsylvania multi-vehicle crash
This image provided by KDKA TV shows the scene near Greensburg, Pa., along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where multiple people were killed and dozens were injured in a crash that involved multiple vehicles on Jan. 5, 2020. (KDKA TV via AP)

Craig Shuey, chief operating officer of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, said that section of the turnpike gets a lot of snow, so crews had been dropping salt and cinder on the roadway since Saturday night.

Pennsylvania Turnpike spokeswoman Renee Colborn 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.

Pileups have occurred on the turnpike in the past. In February 2014, 100 vehicles were involved in a wreck north of Philadelphia that injured at least 30 people.

The CNN Wire contributed to this report.

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