Investigators continue looking into fatal crashes on I-78

TILDEN TWP., Pa. — Investigators continue looking into two crashes that left four people dead on Interstate 78 in Berks County Tuesday night.

The first crash happened around 8:30 p.m. in the eastbound lanes in Tilden Township, where the Pennsylvania State Police said an empty school bus traveling to Canada didn't brake for stopped traffic in a construction zone.

"The bus just plowed into the back of stopped traffic," said Tpr. David Beohm, a public information officer for PSP's Reading-based Troop L.

The police said the bus struck a car, lodging it underneath it, before hitting another car, sending it into a tractor-trailer.

"Additional resources were called in to assist because of the severity of the accident and the time and the amount of vehicles that are involved," said Dep. Chief Jarrod Emes, Union Fire Company of Hamburg.

Augustus Schwartz, 20, of South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, and Thalia Jackson, 25, of Easton, were killed.

"We're really urging the public to be aware of the caution and how dangerous a highway is and the amount of truck traffic that is out there," Emes said, "the vehicle traffic, watching the safe speeds, and just please be aware of the construction changes that are taking place right now as we're doing a lot of highway upgrades up here."

Then at 10:30 p.m., on I-78 in Upper Tulpehocken Township, the police said a tractor-trailer didn't slow down for traffic stopped because of the earlier crash. It then caused another crash involving five vehicles.

"The highway was shut down at 183, so everybody had to get off there, so that was in the backlog of that," Beohm said, "getting off of 183." 

According to investigators, Yalibet Lopez-Perez, 24, of Reading, and Jonny Young, 54, of Lycoming County, were killed.

"If there's any witnesses out there that saw either one of these crashes," Beohm said, "please, please, please call the Hamburg barracks."

To contact the state police at the Hamburg station in Tilden Township, call 610-562-6885.