Bean Station, TN Greyhound Bus And Truck Collide, May 1972
11-W DISASTER BRINGS NEW HIGHWAY PLEAS.
3 FROM KINGSPORT AMONG 14 DEAD; 15 INJURED AS BUS AND TRUCK COLLIDE ON "BONE DRY" PAVEMENT.
The worst traffic accident in Northeast Tennessee history -- the collision Saturday morning of a Greyhound bus and tractor trailer on U.S. 11-W which killed 14 persons including a Kingsport housewife -- spurred new demands Saturday night for completion of Interstate 81 from Knoxville to Kingsport.
Senator Howard Baker called the grinding crash, which reduced both vehicles to masses of twisted junk, "catastrophic evidence of the intolerable hazardous conditions which exist on this highway."
MRS. WANDA CAMPBELL, 26, 117 Warrior Dr., was among the dead. DON BOSWELL, 20, 2008 Westwind Dr., was critically injured, while MRS. ELLEN DELANEY, 905 Maple St., suffered a broken leg and was listed "fair" Saturday night.
Baker said he has urged National Transportation and Safety Boards representatives to make a full investigation of the accident, and hopes "this tragic loss of life will spur immediate action to avoid further carnage on this highway."
The senator pointed out that only last Wednesday, in hearings before the Roads Subcommittee of the Public Works Committee, he had demanded that Transportation Secretary John Volpe halt policies which delay construction of interstate highways and which penalize states like Tennessee which have already completed much of their own interstate systems.
Baker said he asked Volpe to speed apportionment of funds to fill in gaps between Tennessee's existing sections of Interstate.
With Interstate 81 still under construction, U.S. 11-W is a major artery for north and southbound truck traffic and has one of the highest accident rates of any road in Tennessee.
"Because of the heavy truck traffic on that highway," commented Tennessee Highway Patrol Capt. Guy Nicholson, "It was just a matter of time until something like this happened."
"I hope they do something about that highway," said J. GUY BOSWELL, father of the injured youth. "With a four-lane road, I feel sure it wouldn't have happened."
The Kingsport victim, MRS. CAMPBELL, was the wife of Harvey F. Campbell. They moved to Kingsport three months ago from his home town of Concord, Tenn., she was reared in Lenoir, N.C. They had no children.
CAMPBELL said his wife flew to East Chicago, Ind., a week ago to visit her mother, Mrs. Mavis Fletcher, and that the mother had decided to return with her to Kingsport for a visit. MRS. FLETCHER, 55, also was killed.
Young BOSWELL, a sophomore at the University of Tennessee, was coming home for the weekend. He suffered broken ribs and a wrist and apparently serious neck injuries, and was listed
"critical" Saturday night at St. Mary's Hospital in Knoxville.
His father is employed by Tennessee Eastman Co., and his mother is a teacher at Sullivan Elementary School.
MRS. DELANEY, a registered nurse at Holston Valley Community Hospital, was transferred to Kingsport from Morristown - Hamblen Hospital. She suffered a broken leg and other injuries.
MRS. DELANEY reportedly told nurses at the hospital she was asleep when the accident happened, and awoke on a stretcher.
The bus was split in two by the impact and the tractor-trailer, loaded with tar paper and paint, exploded in an inferno that melted much of the vehicle.
Greyhound said the bus was bound from Knoxville, Tenn., to New York City by way of Roanoke and Washington. It had left Knoxville at 3:40 a.m. EDT, 10 minutes behind schedule, and was to have arrived in Roanoke at noon.
Authorities declined to speculate on the cause of the accident, but investigators were checking reports the bus may have skidded after rounding a curve.
Capt. Nicholson said the dead included the drivers of both vehicles and 12 of the 27 passengers on the bus. The 15 injured bus passengers, three of whom were treated and discharged, were taken to hospitals in Morristown, Knoxville and Kingsport.
Bean Station is a small community on 11-W about midway between Knoxville and Kingsport. The wreck occurred almost in front of the Bean Station Baptist Church.
Nicholson said the northbound bus hit the tractor-trailer almost headon in the southbound lane on the narrow, twisting highway at 5:50 a.m. EDT.
There were five children on the bus. Three were killed, one was injured, and one escaped unharmed.
The bus driver was identified as FRANK FLICK of Roanoke. BOBBY G. GARRISON of Gadsden, Ala., was driving the truck.
Fourteen persons were dead on arrival at Morristown - Hamblen Hospital, located about 10 miles south of the accident scene. Eight others were admitted to the Morristown hospital, three were taken to St. Mary's hospital in Knoxville, and one was taken to Kingsport.
NIGHTMARE AT BEAN STATION.
To MRS. THEA JACKSON of Mobile, Ala., one of 15 survivors of Saturday's bus-truck collision, it was a "nightmare."
To Grainger County Rescue Squad member Jesse Atkins it was "terrible, terrible ... I don't understand how anybody got out alive."
"The people were torn all to pieces," said rescue crewman Allen Farmer of Morristown. "There were bodies all over the road."
MRS. JACKSON, who was entoute to Beckley, W. Va., where her daughter is hospitalized with pneumonia, said she was asleep when the crash occurred and was awakened by a rap on the head. She said she heard a baby crying, the bus motor still running .. and then it was "panic."
MRS. JACKSON suvvered a cut leg in the accident, said that after she was jolted awake she heard someone saying, "Turn off the motor."
"My first thought was of the emergency door and I pulled up on the handle. I don't remember how I got out of the bus. It seems like I must have been in there for two hours, but I found myself outside the bus and I was standing in the rain."
"It sounded like a case of dynamite going off," said JESSE COFFEY, 27, a welder who was in bed when the collision occurred outside his Bean Station home. "I jerked the curtain back and saw the truck sliding down the highway. The bus was just sitting there, torn all to pieces."
COFFEY said he rushed to the bus and began pulling victims from the rubble. "I heard a baby crying. Some guy was hollering, 'help me! help me!'"
"The motor of the bus was still running and we cut if off for fear the bus would catch fire. There was no way to tell how many people there were on the bus because they were torn up so bad," he said.
COFFEY said there were several children aboard.
"We got two out that were alive and we found one in the back of the bus that was already dead."
Rescue Squads from surrounding towns used crowbars, air hammers, and acetylene torches to tear away the wreckage so the victims could be removed.
"I crawled into the wreckage and one woman was standing up -- completely surrounded by metal," said one rescue worker. "I looked down and saw her toe wiggling and saw that she was still alive. It seemed like it took forever to get her out."
"The bus was split wide open and people were lying everywhere. Most of the dead were taken from the upper deck of the bus," said State Trooper David Burke of Morristown, first officer to reach the scene.
Although it had been raining throughout the East Tennessee area, the rains did not reach Bean Station until shortly after the accident.
"The road was bone dry at the time," said Burke. He added that there were no skid marks.
A PARTIAL LIST OF PASSENGERS.
Authorities identified the following persons as being among those killed in the Bean Station bus wreck:
BOBBY G. GARRISON, driver of the tractor trailer truck, from Gadsden, Ala.
FRANK FLICK, the bus driver, Roanoke, Va.
ARTHUR B. LAYTHE, 50, Webster, Mass.
DUANE HALE BAIRD, 31, White Pine, Tenn.
WANDA CAMPBELL, 26, Kingsport.
MRS. MAVIS FLETCHER, 55, Chicago, Ind. (mother of WANDA CAMPBELL).
MARY DUNBAR, no age, Forsythe, Ga.
CLARA HARRIS, no age, Collinsville, Ala.
Efforts were still being made late Saturday to identify three other adults and three children killed in the accident.
Persons injured included:
ISABELL TYREE, Philadelphia, Pa.
NORMAN LEVINE, Virginia Beach, Va.
DOT BRYANT, Memphis, Tenn.
WILLIAM BRYANT, Memphis, Tenn.
HAROLD KYLE, Rossville, Ga.
JOHN D. GIKAS, Brooklyn, N.Y.
DENNIS J. CARPENTER, address unknown.
VINCENT DURHAM, Norfolk, Va.
DON BOSWELL, Kingsport.
LORNA MERRILL, Whitefield, N.H.
KENNETH EUGENE BENTLEY, Ann Arbor, Mich.
ELLEN DELANEY, Kingsport.
Those on the bus who were not injured in the wreck were:
JOSHUA JOHNSON, Norfolk, Va.
THEA JACKSON, Mobile, Ala.
The unidentified five-month-old daughter of CECIL and MARY DUNBAR, of Forsythe, Ga. The mother was killed in the accident.
Kingsport Times - News Tennessee 1972-05-14