Jan 6 (Reuters) - The five people killed in a multi-vehicle pileup on the Pennsylvania Turnpike over the weekend were identified on Monday as the driver of the tour bus that crashed first, two of his passengers, and two UPS employees whose truck plowed into the bus.
A day after Sunday’s predawn wreck, state police also released new details about the crash sequence, revealing that the bus struck the highway’s center barrier before veering to the right shoulder and careening up a steep embankment.
As the bus rolled back over onto the roadway across both travel lanes, the driver was thrown from the vehicle, and the bottom of the bus, now lying on its side, was struck by a Fed-Ex tractor-trailer.
Two bus passengers, including a 9-year-old boy, were ejected by the force of the impact before a UPS tractor-trailer also slammed into the bus, demolishing the cab of the truck and killing the two UPS drivers inside.
A passenger car then hit the side of the wrecked UPS truck and was itself struck by a second UPS tractor-trailer, becoming pinned between the two UPS rigs. The occupants of the car and the second UPS truck emerged unscathed, state police said.
All the remaining bus passengers and occupants of the FedEx truck - about 60 people in all - were taken to area hospitals for various injuries, none of them believed to be life-threatening.
The dead adults were identified as the bus driver, Shuang Qing Feng, 58, of Flushing, New York, passenger Eileen Zelis Aria, 35, from the Bronx, UPS drivers Dennis Kehler, 48, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and Daniel Kepner, 53, of Lewistown, Pennsylvania. The juvenile victim’s name was not released.
A 20-member team from the National Transportation Safety Board was assembled on Monday in Mount Pleasant Township, near Pittsburgh, to begin a crash investigation, agency spokesman Eric Weiss said.
State police said deteriorating weather conditions about the time of the wreck may have been a factor in the crash of the bus, which they said was owned by Z&D Tour Inc and was en route from New Jersey to Ohio.
Z&D’s owner told the New York Times that the trip, booked by a company called Ohio Coach, originated from Manhattan’s Chinatown district on a route that his company drives on a daily basis.
The Times said government records show that no crashes involving Z&D buses have been reported to federal regulators during the past two years. (Reporting by Steve Gorman in Culver City, California, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)