Images: Passenger Bus and Tractor-Trailer Collide on Tennessee Highway, 8 Killed and 14 Injured

Bus overturned and the semi caught fire in I-40 crash

 

 
 
 

MITCH WEISS, STEVE MEGARGEE and TRAVIS LOLLER, Associated Press | | Wednesday, October 2, 2013

GALLERIES

Multimedia Thumb

Tennessee Bus, Tractor-Trailer Crash

Eight killed, 14 hurt when bus blew a tire and crossed the median.
More >




DANDRIDGE, Tenn. (AP) — For months, a tight-knit group of seniors at a North Carolina church had been looking forward to the road trip.

It was a tradition for members of the Young at Heart Ministry to attend the annual Fall Jubilee in Gatlinburg, Tenn., an event featuring gospel singers and speakers. The Front Street Baptist Church's website described the gathering as "three days of singing, laughing and preaching" for "mature and senior believers."

But on the way back to Statesville, N.C., on Wednesday, the bus carrying the church group blew a tire, veered across a highway median and crashed into a sport utility vehicle and tractor-trailer in a fiery wreck that killed eight people.

Fourteen other people were hurt in the accident in northeastern Tennessee, including two who were in critical condition.

Church members on Wednesday night were waiting for more details. None of the victims have been identified.

"This is hard," said Jerry Wright, whose 73-year-old brother, John, and his wife were on the bus. "You try not to think the worst, but it gets to you."

He believes his brother may have been driving the church bus because he had done so in the past.

"If he was driving, it's going to be bad," he said. "I've been trying to ring them. I've been calling their phone, but it keeps ringing and ringing and ringing."

Inside the Statesville church, people were crying and hugging each other. One woman whispered, "It's going to be all right" while hugging another woman. A memorial service was held Wednesday evening. Police cordoned off the church to prevent reporters from talking to those who attended.

"There was a very long night for all of us," Front Street Baptist associate pastor Rick Cruz said Thursday morning.

The church has received a tremendous outpouring of love from the community, Cruz said.

"We know God is in control and is able to heal," he said.

George Stadtfeld, who has been a member of the church for eight years, said Wednesday he knew everyone on the bus. He said his wife, Elaine, had been on the trip but didn't travel on the bus. He said she called him crying.

"We're all shaken," he said. "As bad as it is, they're all Christians and I know where they're at. I'll join them later."

The church's Young at Heart Ministry reaches out to older members of the congregation. They go on road trips together and sing in the senior choir. The enjoy each other's company, Stadtfeld said.

"They were all friends," he said.

Dionne Stutts, wife of Front Street Baptist senior pastor Tim Stutts, said her husband and another pastor from the church were en route to the wreck site.

"They had been there and they were on their way home today," she said. "We are devastated and just ask for the people to be praying."

Authorities said the bus crossed the median and the cable barriers that divide the interstate around 2 p.m., clipped the oncoming SUV and slammed into the tractor-trailer, which burst into flames.

Several hours after the crash, clouds of smoke still rose from the tractor-trailer and tree branches that lined the highway were charred.

The bus was on its side next to the tractor-trailer, lying across two lanes of traffic and extending partially into the median.

The bus itself didn't actually catch on fire, but there was some "heat exposure," Jefferson County Emergency Management Director Brad Phillips said. Emergency responders were able to remove people who were alive rapidly to get them away from the flames and other Good Samaritans provided assistance.

The SUV was about 50 yards away from the tractor-trailer. It was still upright, but the back half had been completely ripped off.

The interstate was completely shut down in both directions, and the scene was eerily quiet, despite the presence of many emergency workers.

"This is an extremely horrific event," Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Bill Miller said at an evening news conference.

He said authorities don't know yet what caused the tire to blow out.

The injured were taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. Late Wednesday, center spokesman Jim Ragonese said 14 people from the crash were being treated at the hospital. He said two were in critical condition, seven in serious condition, and five in stable condition.

State Department of Safety and Homeland Security spokeswoman Dalya Qualls said in an email 18 people were on the bus and six of them were killed. One person among the three in the SUV was killed and the tractor-trailer driver also died.

Qualls said Thursday that all lanes of the interstate had reopened by 5:15 a.m.

Brady Johnson, superintendent of the Iredell County-Statesville City Schools, said a lot of people who work for the school system are church members. Johnson said he knew people on the bus and they were awaiting word on the conditions.

Johnson said the church had adopted N.B. Mills Elementary School, providing volunteers and school supplies for needy children.

Now, the school system is offering a high school auditorium as a site for a memorial.

"It hits the community as a whole when tragedy strikes. The whole community comes together," he said.

___

Loller reported from Nashville, Tenn. Weiss reported from Statesville, N.C. Associated Press writer Skip Foreman in Charlotte, N.C., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Mobile Category: 
News


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tennessee Bus, Tractor-Trailer Crash

Gallery 1

Tennessee Bus, Tractor-Trailer Crash

In this aerial photo, emergency workers respond to a crash involving a church bus and a tractor-trailer near Dandridge, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Authorities say a tire on the bus blew out and the bus hit the tractor-trailer and a sport utility vehicle, killing eight people. (AP Photo/Citizen Tribune, Gary Smith)


Gallery 1

Tennessee Bus, Tractor-Trailer Crash

Emergency personnel arrive on 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)


Gallery 1

Tennessee Bus, Tractor-Trailer Crash

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)


Gallery 1

Tennessee Bus, Tractor-Trailer Crash

In this image released by WATE, authorities work at the scene of an interstate accident, near Dandridge, Tenn. on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. A passenger bus has overturned in Jefferson County, completely blocking the eastbound lanes of Interstate 40. (AP Photo/ WATE, Stephanie Beecken)


Gallery 1

Tennessee Bus, Tractor-Trailer Crash

In this image released by WVLT -TV, authorities work at the scene of an interstate accident, near Dandridge, Tenn. on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. A passenger bus has overturned in Jefferson County, completely blocking the eastbound lanes of Interstate 40. (AP Photo/ WVLT -TV)


Gallery 1

Tennessee Bus, Tractor-Trailer Crash

In this aerial photo, emergency workers respond to a crash involving a passenger bus, a tractor-trailer and an SUV near Dandridge, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Authorities said the bus, carrying members of a North Carolina church group, veered across the highway median and crashed into the other vehicles in a fiery wreck that killed several people. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Paul Efird)


Gallery 1

Tennessee Bus, Tractor-Trailer Crash

In this aerial photo, emergency workers respond to a crash involving a passenger bus, a tractor-trailer and an SUV near Dandridge, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Authorities said the bus, carrying members of a North Carolina church group, veered across the highway median and crashed into the other vehicles in a fiery wreck that killed several people. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Paul Efird)


Gallery 1

Tennessee Bus, Tractor-Trailer Crash

In this aerial photo, emergency workers respond to a crash involving a passenger bus, a tractor-trailer and an SUV near Dandridge, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Authorities said the bus, carrying members of a North Carolina church group, veered across the highway median and crashed into the other vehicles in a fiery wreck that killed several people. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Paul Efird)


Gallery 1

Tennessee Bus, Tractor-Trailer Crash

In this aerial photo, emergency workers respond to a crash involving a passenger bus, a tractor-trailer and an SUV near Dandridge, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Authorities said the bus, carrying members of a North Carolina church group, veered across the highway median and crashed into the other vehicles in a fiery wreck that killed several people. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Paul Efird)


Gallery 1

Tennessee Bus, Tractor-Trailer Crash

In this aerial photo, emergency workers respond to a crash involving a passenger bus, a tractor-trailer and an SUV near Dandridge, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Authorities said the bus, carrying members of a North Carolina church group, veered across the highway median and crashed into the other vehicles in a fiery wreck that killed several people. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Paul Efird)



Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, MCI bus crash, bus crash

 
What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

The Evolution of Civilian High Threat Medical Guidelines

How mass killing events have proven a need for new guidelines.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Kentucky Firefighters, Medics Drill for Ebola

Lexington firefighters and medics prepare for possible patients.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Mid-South EMTs Prepare for Ebola

Mid-South EMTs are certified for service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Ebola Changes How North Carolina EMS Responds to Calls

Concern about virus spread leads to new protocols.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Oklahoma Hospitals Prepare for Ebola Cases

Training and preparation are keys for metro hospitals.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Ottawa Shooting Incident

Solider is shot by gunman at national memorial in Ottawa.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Life Link III Trauma Tactics Conference in Minnesota

Conference was designed to enhance the skills of providers of all levels, covering rescue and prehospital situations, to transport and in-hospital treatment.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

EMS Tailgating

Rigs converted for football.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >