YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — Emergency personnel were called to the scene of a fatal crash involving a tractor-trailer and a bus on I-64 in York early Friday morning that killed three people and injured both drivers and the others who were on the bus, police said.
The National Transportation Safety Board arrived later in the day to begin its investigation.
According to Virginia State Police, the call for the crash came in around 1:40 a.m. Friday at mile marker 241 on I-64 eastbound, near Colonial Parkway.
In an update from VSP Friday afternoon, police determined that both the tractor-trailer and the bus were traveling in the eastbound lanes of I-64. As the bus merged into the path of the tractor-trailer, the vehicles collided at mile marker 241.
Police say the impact of the crash caused the tractor-trailer to run off the side of the interstate and into the median where it struck an embankment.
Officials say the commercial bus was carrying 22 unrestrained passengers at the time of the crash.
Three people, two men and one woman, are confirmed dead. Both drivers from each vehicle and the remaining passengers sustained minor to non life-threatening injuries. All were taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Family members confirmed with 10 On Your Side that the three who died in the crash are 21-year-old Jontae Russell, 25-year-old Xzavier Evans, and 19-year-old Montia Bouie. Family members say that the two men are brothers. A GoFundMe has been established for the family of Russell and Evans to pay for funeral costs.
What was supposed to be a fun trip to Richmond and back among friends to celebrate Evans launching his music career quickly became tragic.
“Xzavier was a musically inclined individual. He was crazy about music and crazy about his son. He wanted to be able to share his music with the world and to make a living off of it so he could provide for his family, his child,” said Evans’ older brother Daqwone Hill.
Hill tells 10 On Your Side Evans had dreams about making it big as a rapper. His family is heartbroken.
“He loved everyone. He loved people. There has never been a time where I had gotten off the phone with him and he didn’t tell me he loves me,” Hill recalled.
The family is now preparing for two funerals.
“Both of them were mama’s boys. They loved their mom even to the point that one of the identifications that we had for Jontae was a tattoo on his arm that had his mother’s name,” Hill explained.
10 On Your Side reached out to Riverside Hospital to learn if they were being treated there. The hospital told WAVY “our primary focus is the health and safety of Riverside patients and their loved ones”, but would not confirm how many patients from the crash were there.
Eastbound lanes reopened around 10:45 a.m. but the final westbound lane that was closed didn’t reopen until Friday evening.
Police say charges are pending in consultation with the York County Commonwealth’s Attorney.
A public affairs specialist with the NTSB said Saturday it sent a team of 10 investigators Friday to conduct a safety investigation in cooperation with the Virginia State Police.
Included in the NTSB investigative team are an investigator-in-charge, project manager and investigators in highway factors, motor carrier issues, survival factors and vehicle factors as well as accident reconstruction, along with experts from its family assistance division.
The NTSB said a preliminary report on the cause of the crash can be expected within two to three weeks.