Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp experienced a great deal of anguish as he made his way towards the Interstate 70 and State Route 310 interchange on Tuesday morning. Thorp had been attending a conference of Ohio sheriffs in Sandusky when he began receiving alerts about a five-vehicle crash involving a charter bus carrying high school students and a tractor-trailer.
As the longtime sheriff drove to the scene, he couldn’t help but feel the weight of the situation. The crash had resulted in the deaths of six people, including three teenagers. The victims were identified as 18-year-old Tuscarawas Valley seniors John Mosley and Jeffrey Worrell, 15-year-old sophomore Katelyn Owens, teacher Dave Kennat (56), and parents Kristy Gaynor (39) and Shannon Wigfield (45). Tragically, all six individuals lost their lives at the scene of the accident. Additionally, more than a dozen students were injured, along with several others.
Thorp arrived at the scene to provide support for deputies from his agency and other first responders from police and fire departments across Licking and Franklin counties who had rushed to the scene. The aftermath of such a devastating incident can be overwhelming for those involved in the rescue efforts. Thorp mentioned that a Licking County deputy, who also serves as the agency’s chaplain, accompanied some of the injured students to the hospital and then returned to the reunification center to offer support to deputies and those waiting to be reunited with their loved ones. Chaplains from Franklin County were also present to provide assistance to the victims and first responders.
The impact of the crash was felt by everyone involved, including Sheriff Thorp himself. Responding to traumatic situations and facing danger is part of a deputy’s training, but the emotional toll can be immense. Thorp emphasized the difficulty of the job for firefighters, EMS personnel, and Ohio Highway Patrol troopers when dealing with such tragic events.
In an effort to support the deputies and ensure they have access to necessary resources, a debriefing was held by Licking County deputies on Wednesday morning to discuss the crash response and raise awareness about available support services. The sheriff’s office continues to offer assistance to the Tuscarawas Valley community during this difficult time.
Thorp reflected on the contrast between the joyous day that was supposed to unfold for the school community and the devastating reality they now face. The impact of the fatal bus crash has left everyone involved in a state of shock and devastation.
For any further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to @bethany_bruner.
This article was originally published on The Columbus Dispatch and titled “Sheriff: Fatal high school bus crash, response ‘impacts all of us'”.