Authorities: 8 killed in church bus crash in Tenn.
Emergency personnel search the scene near a collision involving a bus on I-40, in Dandridge, Tenn, on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. A spokeswoman for Tennessee's Safety Department says there are multiple fatalities and injuries in an interstate bus crash between a passenger bus, a tractor-trailer and another vehicle. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Michael Patrick)
A bus taking a church group home to North Carolina blew a tire, veered across a highway median and crashed into a sport utility vehicle and tractor-trailer yesterday in a fiery wreck that killed eight people, authorities said.
Fourteen other people were hurt in the accident in northeastern Tennessee, including eight who were in critical condition. The bus was carrying members of the Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, N.C., which is about 140 miles east of the crash site.
The group of seniors, known as Young at Heart, had been to the 17th annual Fall Jubilee in Gatlinburg, Tenn., a three-day event featuring gospel singers and speakers.
George Stadfeld, who has been a member of the church for eight years, said he knew everyone on the bus.
“We’re all shaken,” he said.
Authorities said the bus crossed the median about 2 p.m., clipped the oncoming SUV and slammed into the tractor-trailer, which burst into flames. The truck driver died.
“This is an extremely horrific event,” Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Bill Miller said at an evening news conference.
He said authorities didn’t know yet what caused the tire to blowout.
Susan Wyatt, a spokeswoman for the University of Tennessee Medical Center, said 12 people had been brought to the hospital, four by helicopter, and two more were still en route four hours after the accident.