Back in October of last year, a three-vehicle collision in eastern Tennessee left eight people dead. Now, further reports by investigators state that the crash was caused by a blown front tire on a church bus.
According to CNN, the church bus was traveling east on Interstate 40 in Jefferson County, Tennessee, when the tire blew, causing the driver to lose control. The church bus then veered over the median and ran through a cable barrier prior to crashing into a Chevy Tahoe and tractor-trailer traveling in the opposite direction. Colonel Tracy Trott of the Tennessee Highway Patrol stated the following:
“This tragedy was the result of blunt-force impact to the front tire that weakened its internal structure and caused the tire’s failure. There was no evidence of any pre-existing condition to the tire.”
Trott also added that the driver of the church bus was not impaired or distracted. There was no evidence indicating the church bus, owned by the Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, North Carolina, was not well maintained.
The bus was carrying eighteen passengers the day of the crash. Five of the passengers were ejected and killed during the moment of impact. One more died inside the bus. One person in the Chevy Tahoe and the driver of the tractor-trailer were also killed, bringing the death toll to eight.
The six who were killed in the church bus crash were part of a group of senior citizens known as “Young at Heart,” according to their pastor, Rick Cruz. They were heading back home from the 17th Annual Fall Jubilee conference in Gatlinburg, after three days of praise, prayer, and worship.
Yahoo News included more information on the process and conditions that led up to the church bus crash. Trott explains that the evidence indicated the left front tire impacted a foreign structure while travelling the fifty miles before the crash. The tire failed once it got too hot. What that foreign structure is, Trott is unsure:
“It could have been a pothole. It could have been an object in the road. It could have been a curb.”
There is an example of heroic behavior associated with this tragedy. Trott states that the church bus crash would have seen more fatalities if it weren’t for troopers working a construction zone only four minutes away.
“Several people were carried or helped out of the bus by THP and EMS as it burned.”
The troopers were honored with the agency’s Lifesaver Award for their work that day.
[Image via Screen Cap]