Jefferson City, TN Tractor-Trailer, Bus And SUV Crash, Oct 2013
TENNESSEE HIGHWAY PATROL INVESTIGATION STARTS IN I-40 CRASH THAT KILLED 8 IN EAST TENNESSEE.
Knoxville, Tenn. - Tennessee Highway Patrol investigators worked at the crash scene Wednesday night on Interstate 40 where eight people were killed and 14 injured after a church bus from North Carolina collided with a tractor-trailer and an SUV.
Authorities emphasized at an evening press conference that their work into the cause of the afternoon crash in Jefferson City had just begun. No names of the dead or injured were released, and the highway remained closed with all traffic being rerouted.
A blown tire on the bus will be studied as a possible culprit in the crash's cause.
Six people on the bus from the Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, N.C., were killed along with the driver of the tractor-trailer and a person in the SUV, according to preliminary numbers from Dalya Qualls, public information officer with the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security.
Susan Wyatt, spokeswoman for the University of Tennessee Medical Center, said the hospital received 12 patients, four by way of the Lifestar medical helicopter. The hospital was expecting two more patients this evening, she said.
Eight of the patients are in critical condition, two are in serious condition and two are stable, Wyatt said.
The bus was carrying 18 people, according to Qualls, and three people were in the Tahoe.
According to Qualls, the bus's left front tire blew out as it headed east on I-40. The bus then moved from the eastbound I-40 lanes and across the median, clipping the westbound Tahoe and continued on, striking the westbound tractor-trailer on the left side.
The impact caused the rig to immediately catch fire, Qualls said. The bus was knocked on its side.
The bus, carrying members of a senior adult class from the Statesville church, was returning from the 17th annual Fall Jubilee in Gatlinburg. The three-day event, which started Monday, bills itself as "three days of singing, laughing and preaching" for mature and senior believers.
The jubilee wrapped up just before lunch Wednesday with a scheduled appearance by the Rev. Charles Stanley.
"Our thoughts are with out friends at the Front Street Baptist Church in their tragic loss," a statement on the jubilee website reads.
"Pastor Johnny Hunt, the congregation at First Baptist Church Woodstock, and all the Jubilee team have you in our prayers."
The crash happened around 2 p.m. at mile marker 423 east of the Interstate 81 split, Sgt. Ken Wright of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said.
The highway likely will be shut down until at least early Thursday. Debris was scattered throughout the crash scene.
Troopers, deputies and emergency personnel from multiple counties responded to the scene. Fire crews worked to extinguish flames rising from the tractor-trailer. By 4 p.m. smoke continued to waft from the wrecked rig.