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Fayette County crash with school van leaves woman dead, four injured

WTAE Pittsburgh 3/21/2023
woman killed, students injured in fayette county crash © WTAE woman killed, students injured in fayette county crash

A crash in Dunbar Township, Fayette County, involving a school van left one dead and four people, including three students, injured Monday afternoon, according to Pennsylvania state police.

The crash happened on Furnace Hill Road about one quarter mile west of DMC Road. State police said three vehicles were involved in the crash.

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State police said Brenda Dewitt, 56, of Dunbar Township, died as a result of the crash.

She was pronounced dead on the scene. Police said alcohol and speed are believed to be factors in the crash.

While trying to bypass a vehicle in front of her, Dewitt allegedly struck a Connellsville Area School District van head-on in the eastbound lane, according to state police. The impact threw Dewitt's vehicle back into the westbound lane, where her vehicle then grazed the vehicle she had been trying to pass.

The Fayette County coroner pronounced Dewitt dead at the scene.

“It’s terrifying,” business owner, Selena Mullins said. “It only takes one second.”

A release from Connellsville Area School District Superintendent Joseph A. Bradley said in part that the district learned of the crash around 3:35 p.m. He said the crash involved a TA Nelson van transporting three elementary-age Dunbar Township Elementary students from school to home.

Bradley says the driver of the school van and one student were taken by helicopter to Pittsburgh-area hospitals. Two students were transported to local hospitals.

"We want to keep everyone involved in our thoughts," Bradley wrote.

First responders at the scene said that all three students seemed to be "OK."

The driver of the school van, Richard Watson, 73, of Dunbar, sustained serious injuries from the crash. The driver of the third vehicle was released from the scene uninjured.

This crash brought a renewed concern over the dangers of that road.

“People drive so fast up that road. It’s ridiculous. It’s so sharp and turning up that way, I don’t know why you don’t drive the speed limit. Even the speed limit might be a little too fast for that road,” Mullins said.

Watch Sky 4 with Action Cam over the scene in Fayette County in the video above.

Dunbar Volunteer Firefighters said the driver of the school van is one of their own, a Dunbar Volunteer Fire Department safety officer.

“I know the van driver personally. I prayed for his safety, and I know he cares very deeply for those children,” neighbor, Holly Cessac said.

State police in Uniontown are handling the investigation.

This is a developing story. Stay with Pittsburgh's Action News 4 for updates. Download the WTAE mobile app to stay connected with breaking news.


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