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Bus involved in deadly Ohio crash had emergency exit-related violations: Inspection report

The coach bus involved in the deadly crash on I-70 in Ohio had multiple violations before the incident, according to an examination report from state inspectors obtained by ABC News on Friday.

The document, released by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in response to a public records request over the November crash, says that the Pioneer Trails bus had "inadequate" marking issues on three emergency exit window labels, including incorrect operating instructions.

The report also says that three windows on the passenger side of the bus and two windows on the driver side "contain emergency exit marking labels but are not functioning emergency exits," while a fire extinguisher on the bus had an "invalid tag date of 2019."

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PHOTO: Six people, including three teenagers, were killed in a multi-vehicle crash on an Ohio highway Nov. 14, 2023, involving a charter bus carrying high school students. (Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/USA Today)
PHOTO: Six people, including three teenagers, were killed in a multi-vehicle crash on an Ohio highway Nov. 14, 2023, involving a charter bus carrying high school students. (Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/USA Today)

Roadside emergency reflective triangles were also reportedly missing from the bus.

In an email to ABC News on Saturday, Pioneer Trails attorney Brad Barmen said, "This bus was in excellent working order and fully compliant with all local, state, and federal regulations at all times prior to this accident."

"This accident was a terrible tragedy that occurred for reasons currently unknown and unrelated to Pioneer," Barmen added. "The company's thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and their families."

The collision occurred on Nov. 14 in Licking County, east of Columbus.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol says that the bus, which had been transporting students from Tuscarawas Valley High School to a conference in Columbus, was "slowing for traffic" alongside other vehicles when it and a car were hit from behind by a Mid State Systems truck. This is believed to have caused the bus to hit another car and another truck.

A massive fire broke out and six people died, including three students.

Although the inspection of the bus that resulted in these violations being found occurred after the collision, state officials believe the violations in question were not caused by the incident, while other issues like a missing emergency exit on the rear roof of the bus are believed to be the result of the crash itself.

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It is not yet clear whether fines will be issued in connection with the alleged violations, according to the commission.

Another report released Friday by the commission said that the Mid State Systems truck, which was traveling from Topton, Pennsylvania to East Liberty, Ohio, was transporting lead-acid batteries and that "acid from batteries was released as a result of the crash."

"The truck and trailer are a total loss," the report added. "The axle 2 and axle 3 brake chambers on the truck were melted away. All remaining brakes were unable to be measured."

Trucks owned by Mid State Systems were cited prior to the collision by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for issues such as defective brakes, according to documents obtained earlier this week by ABC News.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families [affected] by this tragic accident," Lee Zazworsky of Mid State Systems told ABC News by email on Thursday. "Since this matter is still under investigation, we will reserve further comment at this time."

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are conducting investigations into the crash.

Bus involved in deadly Ohio crash had emergency exit-related violations: Inspection report originally appeared on abcnews.go.com