Fifth Person Dies After Crashes on I-78 That Also Killed Hockey Player

The second multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 78 eastbound Tuesday night occurred after traffic was detoured for the first wreck, Pennsylvania State Police said

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What to Know

  • Two related crashes about two hours and 10 miles apart left Interstate 78 eastbound in Berks County closed for hours Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and left five people -- including a youth hockey player -- dead.
  • The first wreck in Tilden Township involved a school bus with no children on board and left two people dead, Pennsylvania State Police said.
  • The second wreck in Upper Tulpehocken Township involved a truck and left three people dead, police said.

A fifth person has died after two related multi-vehicle crashes -- one involving a new school bus -- two hours and 10 miles apart caused a traffic mess for hours on eastbound Interstate 78 in Berks County.

Pennsylvania State Police confirmed Thursday morning that a fifth person had died from injuries suffered in the second of the two crashes Tuesday night that also claimed the life of a former Lehigh Valley Phantoms Youth hockey player.

The first crash occurred around 8:20 p.m. near milepost 27.4 in Tilden Township, police said.

A 69-year-old Georgia woman who was driving an empty school bus failed to stop in a construction zone near Hamburg and slammed into the back of a sedan, killing 20-year-old driver August "Gus" Schwartz of South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, authorities said. The bus then went over the top of the sedan and rear-ended an SUV, killing the 25-year-old front-seat passenger, police said. The Berks County Coroner's Office later identified that person as Thalia Jackson of Easton, Northampton County.

Gus Schwartz was a member of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Youth program who also played hockey for Parkland Varsity Ice Hockey, the Phantoms said in a tweet. The team plans a moment of silence prior to Saturday's game against Rochester and will donate a portion of tickets sales to a Phantoms Youth scholarship fund in Schwartz's name.

SkyForce10 was over the scene and captured the school bus as well as a heavily damaged vehicle surrounded by first responders. Multiple people were trapped inside the vehicles and had to be rescued.

The bus was new and was being driven to Canada for delivery, police said.

About two hours later, a 64-year-old truck driver who was being detoured off I-78 around 10:20 p.m. near milepost 18.1 in Upper Tulpehocken Township because of the earlier crash failed to slow down for stopped traffic and rear-ended a van, causing a chain-reaction crash involving three other vehicles, police said.

Killed were 24-year-old Yalibet Lopez-Perez from Reading who was riding in the back seat of a sedan, and 54-year-old Jonny Young from the Williamsport area who was driving an SUV, police and the coroner's office said.

On Wednesday night, 21-year-old Joshua Del Toro, of Reading died from his injuries, the coroner's office said. State police police said he was a front seat passenger in one of the vehicles in the second wreck.

Police didn't reveal how many people were hurt in the wrecks.

I-78 reopened around 4 a.m. Wednesday.

No one had been charged as of Thursday morning as police continued to investigate.

Autopsies for the victims are planned this weekend, the coroner's office said.

Correction (Dec. 16, 2021, 12:59 p.m.): This story has been updated after Pennsylvania State Police said that they had erroneously said which crash the fifth victim to die was involved in. Joshua Del Toro died in the second crash that involved a truck.

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