YORK COUNTY, Va. — Police have released the names of the two men and one woman killed following a crash that involved a party bus carrying more than 20 people and a tractor trailer on Interstate 64 in Virginia early Friday morning.
The crash occurred just after 1:30 a.m. near Williamsburg, and prompted the National Transportation Safety Board to send 10 investigators to conduct a safety investigation in cooperation with state police, the agency tweeted late Friday afternoon.
Both vehicles were traveling in eastbound lanes toward Norfolk when the “passenger bus merged into the tractor trailer’s path” and the “vehicles collided,” state police said.
Three of the 23 bus passengers died at the scene, state police said.
The victims were identified Sunday as 19-year-old Montia Bouie of Chesapeake, 25-year-old Xavier Raquan Evans of Norfolk and 21-year-old Johntae Kaalib Russel of Norfolk.
The driver and the remaining passengers were taken to local hospitals for non-life-threatening injuries.
The bus passengers were not wearing seatbelts, state police said. The man driving the tractor trailer was also taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
State police also said that “charges are pending” in consultation with the local prosecutor's office in York County.
Troopers said Sunday that alcohol and speed were contributing factors in the crash.
That is an unfortunate trend driving safety advocates said they expect to see heading into the holiday season.
“One after another, we have all of these holidays and events that are kind of structured, either inclusive of alcohol or structured around alcohol where you’re going to have more crashes and you still have people not buckling up, they’re just not going to buckle up," said Janet Brooking with DRIVE SMART Virginia.
AAA predicts 3.1 million Virginians will get behind the wheel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2 for holiday travel, alongside typical traffic along busy highways and interstates.
Morgan Dean with AAA said disturbing driving trends they've tracked since the beginning of the pandemic will push drivers to play it safe.
“There are some drivers who have engaged in some very, very dangerous activities out there. They’ve been driving without their seatbelts. They’ve been aggressive driving, they’ve been speeding, and they’ve been drinking and driving. And all of those things, individually they can be very, very bad, but combined, they can be very, very bad, and deadly.”
Dean said AAA is expecting the number of Virginians choosing to drive this holiday season to be higher than expected because of dropping gas prices. As of right now, AAA reports the average price for a gallon of gas in Virginia is around $3.01.
NTSB working with Virginia State Police
The participation of the NTSB is rare for an agency that's known for investigating the nation's airplane and helicopter crashes. But the agency will occasionally look into crashes that are not aviation-related.
Eric Weiss, an NTSB spokesman, said in an email that the agency's Office of Highway Safety investigates crashes that have significant safety implications nationwide, involve the loss of numerous lives, or generate high interest because of emerging technologies or because of their circumstances.
Last year, the office launched “go-teams” to eight major crashes across the U.S., Weiss said.
“The makeup of this particular go-team includes an investigator-in-charge, project manager and a multidisciplinary team with experts in highway factors, motor carrier factors, survival factors, vehicle factors and accident reconstruction,” Weiss said. “There are also experts from our family assistance division.”
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