The Tennessee bus crash victims were identified as a senior citizen group from North Carolina. The group was returning from a three-day gospel festival in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The victims were all members of a group called Young at Heart.
The group was traveling along Interstate 40 when one of the tires blew. The incident caused the driver to lose control. The bus crossed the median, hitting a tractor-trailer and an SUV.
Witnesses report hearing several explosions. When authorities arrived, the bus was engulfed in flames.
As reported by WCNC News, eight people were killed in the crash.The victims include bus passengers Cloyce Matheny, age 95, John Wright, age 73, Brenda Smith, age 69, and Marsha McLelland, age 62. Bus driver Randy Morrison and his wife Barbara, both age 66.
Trent Robertson, age 24, was killed in the SUV. The driver of the tractor-trailer was also killed. However, his name has not been released.
Twelve other bus passengers, the SUV driver, and his passenger, were injured in the crash. Two were discharged from the hospital with minor injuries. Three remain hospitalized in stable condition, seven are in serious condition, and two are in critical condition.
Eighteen of the bus passengers were members of the Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, North Carolina. The Young at Heart group members were very close. They all sang in the church choir and often traveled together.
Five of the Tennessee bus crash victims retired from the Iredell-Statesville School District.
Members of the Front Street Baptist Church gathered on Wednesday evening to pray for the survivors and remember those who were killed. Associate pastor Rick Cruz says “the church has received a tremendous outpouring of love and support from the community.”
As reported by the Washington Post, the accident will not be investigated by The National Transportation Safety Board. A majority of the board’s investigators were furloughed due to the government shutdown.
The injured Tennessee bus crash survivors are being treated at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.
[Image via Wikimedia]