A road trip by a college women’s lacrosse team came to a horrifying end Saturday when the team bus veered off the Pennsylvania Turnpike and crashed into a tree, killing a pregnant coach, her unborn child, and the driver, and injuring numerous others, authorities said.
Seton Hill University team players and coaches were among the 23 people aboard when the bus, operated by Mlaker Charter & Tours, of Davidsville, crashed just before 9 a.m. No other vehicle was involved, and police could not immediately say what caused the accident.
Coach Kristina Quigley, 30, of Greensburg, was flown to a hospital but died there of injuries she suffered in the crash, Cumberland County authorities said. Quigley was about six-months pregnant and her unborn child did not survive, authorities said. The bus driver, Anthony Guaetta, 61, of the city’s Westmont neighborhood, died from blunt force trauma at the scene.
The other passengers were removed from the bus within an hour and taken to hospitals as a precaution. The collision appeared to have shorn away the front left side of the bus, which rested upright about 70 yards from the road at the bottom of a grassy slope, near milepost 227 on the eastbound side of the turnpike.
The lacrosse team was headed to play Saturday afternoon at Millersville University, about 50 miles from the crash site in central Pennsylvania, for its fourth game of the year.
Both Saturday’s game and a Sunday home game were canceled after the crash, and Seton Hill, a Catholic school of about 2,500 students near Pittsburgh, said a memorial Mass was planned for Sunday night on campus.
Duquesne University women’s lacrosse coach Mike Scerbo remembered Quigley as a warm, outgoing person who immediately impressed him when he hired her to be an assistant during the 2008 season.
Quigley, also a Duquesne alum, spent just one season under Scerbo before moving to South Carolina to start Erskine College’s NCAA Division II program.
“In that time, I really saw how much passion she had to be a coach, and how much she enjoyed working with the kids,” Scerbo said. “She was a teacher, and she wanted to help kids grow and learn, not just about the sport, but about life.”
She spent three years at Erskine before taking the top job at Seton Hill for the 2012 season. She stayed in touch with Scerbo, often seeking his guidance and showing up at the Duquesne alumni game.
“She was a very happy person, very passionate about life, about her players, about her job and most importantly about her family,” Scerbo said.
Quigley, a native of Baltimore, was married and had a young son, Gavin, the school said.
Mlaker is up to date on its inspections, which include bus and driver safety checks, said Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman for the state Public Utility Commission, which regulates bus companies.
The agency’s motor safety inspectors could think of no accidents or violations involving the company that would raise a red flag, she said, though complete safety records were not available Saturday.
According to the company’s website, it maintains the highest safety ratings possible from the U.S. Department of Defense, which is a regular charter for the agency in deploying or returning troops, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The agency also received an “outstanding” rating from the Transportation Security Exchange.
Dan Ronan, a spokesman for the American Bus Association, said a bus operation company that held these safety accreditations would be going “beyond” industry standards and expectations.
“From an industry standpoint ... you can’t do any better than that,” he said.
Mlaker sent investigators to the scene, company dispatcher Kelly Hay said.
Stephen Geduldig, a legal representative for the company, said a statement would not be made until state police finished their investigation.
“This is a terrible, terrible tragedy and my clients are trying to be sensitive to the victims’ families in this matter,” he said.
Tribune-Democrat staff writer Justin Dennis contributed to this report.