8 Killed, 14 Injured In Church Bus Crash On I-40 In East Tenn. - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

8 Killed, 14 Injured In Church Bus Crash On I-40 In East Tenn.

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(Image courtesy WVLT in Knoxville) (Image courtesy WVLT in Knoxville)
(Image courtesy WVLT in Knoxville) (Image courtesy WVLT in Knoxville)
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(Image courtesy WVLT on Facebook) (Image courtesy WVLT on Facebook)
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DANDRIDGE, Tenn. - Eight people were killed and another 14 injured after a three-vehicle crash Jefferson County authorities described as "horrific."

Investigators from Tennessee Highway Patrol reported a church bus from North Carolina was traveling on I-40 east near Dandridge, Tennessee around 2 p.m. Wednesday when one of its tires blew out.

The driver of the bus lost control and hit a tractor trailer and SUV traveling westbound. The tractor trailer burst into flames.

The bus was carrying a church group from Statesville, North Carolina. There were 18 people on board the bus, 3 in the SUV and 1 person in the tractor trailer.

Eight people were pronounced dead at the scene, while 14 were transported to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. Investigators have not released the names of the victims.

Images from the scene showed smoke coming from the wreckage. The bus and semi were blocking all of the westbound roadway, including both shoulders. 

"This is probably, in my 17 years, the most serious incident I've ever been a part of," said Sgt. Bill Miller with the THP.

Several crews and ambulances from the Knoxville Fire Department, Jefferson County and Hamblen County also responded to the scene. Authorities on the scene praised emergency responders for their quick work under difficult conditions

"They were valiant," said Brad Phillips, EMA director of Jefferson County. "It was a tragic day today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and we will continue to remember them."

It was not known if any charges would be filed as a result of the accident.

I-40 remained closed late into the evening hours. 

Drivers heading east were detoured onto I-81, then to I-26 into North Carolina. Westbound traffic was being stopped at the Newport exit and taken on alternate routes.

"It's one of those incidents where we can't rush it," said Sgt. Miller. "If you rush it, you lose critical evidence you need. We will do our best to get this investigation complete and be a thorough as we can be."

The Red Cross was assisting the victims and their families.

Anyone who believes they have an immediate family member involved in the crash can call the Red Cross at 865-305-5716 for more information.

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