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3 of the 5 people killed in the Pennsylvania Turnpike crash were ejected from vehicles, police say

A bus operator, a woman and a 9-year-old girl were all ejected from vehicles Sunday as a massive pileup on the Pennsylvania Turnpike left five dead, Pennsylvania State Police said Monday.

The crash took place around 3:30 a.m. ET as a 2005 tour bus carrying 56 passengers was traveling in the left lane and struck a center barrier, police said. The bus veered to the right, traveled up an embankment, rolled over and came to rest on its left side.

The driver of the bus, Shuang Qing Feng, 58, was ejected from the bus, police said. Feng, of Flushing, New York, was pronounced dead at the scene.

As the bus lay on its side, police said, it was struck by a FedEx tractor-trailer. Two passengers — Eileen Zelis Aria, 35, and Jaremy Vazquez, 9 — were ejected from the bus. They were pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Aria was from the Bronx and Jaremy was from Brooklyn.

The bus was then hit by a UPS tractor-trailer being driven by Daniel Kepner, 53, and Dennis Kehler, 48. Both men were declared dead at the scene.

A Mercedes passenger vehicle then hit the side of the UPS truck and a second UPS tractor-trailer hit the Mercedes, pinning the car between the two trucks, police said. Neither the people in the Mercedes nor those in the second UPS truck were injured, police said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to have a preliminary report of the crash in 10 days, NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy said at a Monday news conference. The final report is expected in 18 to 24 months.

NTSB: ‘This is going to be a very wide-ranging, complex investigation’

Sunday’s crash took place just 10 miles before the bus’ expected destination, Homendy said Monday.

The tour bus left Flushing, New York, at 10 p.m. Sunday, she said. It was headed to New Stanton, Pennsylvania, making stops in Manhattan and New Jersey along the way.

It is unclear whether the bus driver was speeding or wearing a seat belt, Homendy said, but the NTSB has requested the driver’s driving record.

Homendy described the crash as “devastating.” The agency’s investigation will focus on roadway design, driver performance, motor carrier compliance and survival factors.

“This is going to be a very wide-ranging, complex investigation and this is day one,” 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.

Around 60 people were taken to hospitals

About 60 patients were taken to three area hospitals, Pennsylvania Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said.

Excela Frick Hospital received 31 patients ranging from ages 7 to 52, spokeswoman Robin Jennings said. She said nine of the patients were children. As of Monday, 27 patients were released, one pediatric patient was taken to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and three adults were transferred to UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh, according to Frick hospital spokesman Thomas Chakurda.

UPMC Somerset received 18 patients — 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. As of Monday, five patients remained at the hospital with two in critical condition and three in fair condition, Waite said.

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