YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – A preliminary investigation into the Interstate 64 crash involving a tractor-trailer and a bus that killed three people in the early morning hours of Dec. 16 indicates that the driver of the tractor-trailer “approached the bus at a higher speed and collided with the rear of the bus.”

The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary investigation, released Tuesday, said that the two vehicles were traveling eastbound in the far-right lane on I-64 near mile marker 240, with the bus ahead of the tractor-trailer, which was moving faster than the bus when it struck the back of the bus.

“As a result of the crash, the body of the bus’s passenger compartment was destroyed and multiple passengers on the bus were ejected,” three of them fatally, the NTSB’s preliminary investigation said.

The bus was privately-owned by the principal operator of Futrell’s Party Adventures and was occupied by the driver and about 23 passengers, according to the NTSB. The bus was advertised as a “party bus” and had limousine-style seating, with perimeter bench seats allowing passengers to face one another.

The tractor-trailer involved was a 2022 Freightliner Cascadia truck-tractor in combination with a Great Dane van-style semitrailer (combination vehicle), operated by Triton Logistics Inc.

Both vehicle operators survived the crash, and the other passengers were treated for various injuries.

The NTSB said that all aspects of the crash are still under investigation while it determines probable cause, and that it intends to issue safety recommendations to prevent similar events. It also said the information from its report is preliminary and subject to change.

Virginia State Police revealed early on in the investigation that speed and alcohol were contributing factors.

The family attorney for victim Montia Bouie, William Harding, told 10 On Your Side in late December that court documents showed the driver of the tractor-trailer could be at fault and said they indicated the driver was going too fast.

“The investigation is ongoing, but it appears, from what we know now, the tractor-trailer is primarily responsible for this tragedy,” Harding said.