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Church bus wreck kills 8 in Tennesseecomment (0)

October 3, 2013

Church bus wreck kills 8 in Tennessee

Eight people died Oct. 2 when a church bus blew a tire, crossed the median and collided with two vehicles on Interstate 40 in eastern Tennessee.

Senior adults from Front Street Baptist Church in Statesboro, N.C., were returning home from Gatlinburg, Tenn., after attending the 17th annual Fall Jubilee. The sold-out event was billed as “old-time gospel singin’, laughin’ and preachin’” with keynote speakers Johnny Hunt and Charles Stanley and artists including Sandi Patty, Larnelle Harris and Guy Penrod, longtime lead singer of the Gaither Vocal Band.

Alabama Baptists were among those attending the event.

Six of the dead belonged to Young at Heart, a close-knit group of senior adults at Front Street Baptist that holds monthly outings and rehearses on Tuesday mornings for a senior-adult choir called Joyful Singers. The Fall Jubilee is an annual tradition.

“We know that six of our seniors have gone on to be with the Lord in heaven,” worship pastor Rick Cruz said in a press conference at the church Oct. 3.

“We know that God is in control, and we know that He is able to heal even in this difficult time,” Cruz said. “We do rejoice in the fact that six of our loved ones are in heaven with the Lord right now, and we know Jesus gave His life for each one of us on the cross so that we may have everlasting life. So that's the hope that we hold on to and that's the truth that we hold on to each and every day."

Fourteen people were taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, four of them airlifted from the scene and the others either by ambulance or personal vehicle. As of this morning two remained in critical condition, seven others were serious and five were stable.

Police say the fully loaded bus with 18 passengers, including the driver, was traveling eastbound when it went out of control after a blowout of its left front tire. It snapped through a cable barrier and careened across a grassy median before clipping a Chevrolet Tahoe and slamming into a tractor-trailer that immediately burst into flames. Also killed were the truck driver and a passenger in the SUV.

Police Sgt. Bill Miller called it the worst wreck he has covered in 17 years as public information officer for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The accident occurred around 2 p.m. Wednesday at mile marker 423 on Interstate 40 near Dandridge, Tenn., about 30 miles east of Knoxville. The interstate was closed until about 5 a.m. this morning.


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