State Police Identify 2 Killed in Fiery Crash on I-84 West in East Hartford

Connecticut State Police have identified the school bus driver and tractor-trailer truck driver who were killed in a fiery 4-vehicle crash on Interstate 84 west in East Hartford on Monday morning.

According to police, the driver of the school bus, later identified as 67-year-old Verlean A. Douglas, of South Windsor, and the driver of one of the tractor-trailer trucks, later identified as 52-year-old Norman Blair Bliss, of Pennsylvania, were both killed in the crash. 

Four other people who were in vehicles involved in the crash were not injured, officials said.

A tractor-trailer carrying paper products, a Penske tractor-trailer and a school bus were stopped on I-84 west in the center lane next to the connecting ramp from Route 2 west around 5 a.m.

A third tractor-trailer was driving in the center lane, approaching the back of the school bus. Police said the tractor-trailer attempted to brake and avoid the school bus, but was unable to stop in time and crashed into the back of the bus.

Officials said there were no students on the bus at the time of the crash.

Due to the impact, the front of the school bus collided with the back of the Penske tractor-trailer that was in front of it, which then collided with the back of the tractor-trailer that was carrying paper products, authorities added.

The tractor-trailer that hit the bus continued into the left lane, jack-knifed and caught on fire, officials said. The fire then spread to the school bus, and two other tractor-trailers.

Douglas, who was driving the bus, and Bliss, who was driving the tractor-trailer truck that hit the bus, both died in the crash, police said.

Connecticut State Police, the State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Squad, the State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Department of Motor Vehicles and East Hartford Fire Department all responded to the scene.

The cause of the collision remains under investigation.

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