Easton resident, South Whitehall resident die in I-78 crash, authorities say


UPDATE: A 5th person dies after crashes on Interstate 78 in Berks County

Two of the four people who died in crashes late Tuesday night on Interstate 78 in Berks County were from the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania State Police report.

In an eastbound crash reported at 8:22 p.m. at mile marker 27.4 in Tilden Township, a school bus, driven by a 69-year-old woman from Georgia, slammed into the rear of a Chevrolet Cruz driven by a 20-year-old man, police said.

The bus continued east with the Chevrolet stuck underneath its front end, police said. The bus then rear-ended a Nissan Xterra driven by a 58-year-old Phillipsburg man, pushing it into a tractor-trailer driven by a 32-year-old Pennsylvania man, police said.

The driver of the Chevrolet, August D. Schwartz, of South Whitehall Township, and a front seat passenger in the Nissan, Thalia Jackson, 25, of Easton, were pronounced dead just before 11:30 p.m. at the scene by a Berks County deputy coroner, police said. No one else was hurt, police said.

The second crash happened just after 10:20 p.m. at mile marker 18.1 in Upper Tulpehocken Township as vehicles were being detoured off I-78 East because the highway was closed in that direction due to the previous crash, police said.

A truck driven by a 64-year-old man from New Florence, Westmoreland County, failed to slow for stopped vehicles and slammed into the rear of a van driven by a 53-year-old man from Inman, South Carolina, police said.

The van then struck a sedan driven by a 40-year-old woman from Reading and carrying three passengers, which then impacted an SUV driven by a 54-year-old man from the Williamsport area, police said. The SUV then hit a tractor-trailer driven by a 46-year-old man from Orlando, police said.

SUV driver Jonny L. Young, of Loyalstock Township in Lycoming County, and sedan passenger Yalibet Lopez-Perez, 24, of Reading, were pronounced dead just after 2 a.m. Wednesday by another deputy county coroner, police said.

The crashes remain under investigation. There have been not citations issued or arrests made as of this point, police said.

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Tony Rhodin can be reached at [email protected].