At least eight people are believed to have been killed in a
fiery crash involving a chartered bus ferrying senior adults from Front Street Baptist Church,
Statesville, N.C. Traffic has been shut down in both directions on Interstate 40 in Jefferson
The crash happened around 2 p.m. on I-40 westbound between mile markers 422
and 424 near the Interstate 81 split, Sgt. Ken Wright of the Tennessee Highway Patrol
All lanes are shut down as troopers and deputies from surrounding
counties rush to the scene.
The bus was eastbound on I-40 when it
“traveled across the median and struck a tractor-trailer and passenger car that were traveling
westbound,” according to Tennessee Department of Safety spokeswoman Dalya
“The tractor-trailer caught fire and the bus overturned,” Qualls
said. “There are multiple fatalities and injuries at this
According to http://Statesville.com
, the bus was chartered to
transport senior adults from Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, N.C. The
church members were on their way back from a trip to visit and tour Gatlinburg, according to a
church spokesperson. The group had left Monday morning.
Tennessee Department of Transportation estimates the interstate could be closed for the next seven
An emergency dispatcher with Sevier County said fire and ambulance
units were sent to assist Jefferson County at the scene.
The agency said
medical helicopters from Johnson City and the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville
were transporting several patients.
East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in
Knoxville remains on standby but has received no patients so far, spokeswoman Erica Estep
At least 10 patients were being sent to various hospitals in the
region, according to the Jefferson County EMA. At least four of the patients were transported by air
to area hospitals, while eight were transported by ground. Two were not transported, Qualls
J. Ray Walker, captain of the Jefferson County Volunteer Rescue
Squad, reported the trailer continued to burn at 3:20 p.m. The bus, which did not catch fire, was
on its side “crossways in the westbound side” Walker said.
the tractor-trailer was in a ditch on the shoulder of the road.
said he was not aware of any entrapments from the crash.
“We were able to
get in and out to everybody,” he said.
Walker said emergency fire
departments and ambulances from Cocke and Jefferson counties and Dandridge were on the
Traffic was being rerouted on the eastbound side at the I-40 and
I-81 junction. Westbound, traffic is being diverted at mile marker
TDOT is advising westbound I-40 travelers to get off at Exit 424
to state Route 113 south to US 25/70 West to state Route 92 North back to I-40 Westbound at Exit
TDOT is advising travelers heading toward North Carolina on
eastbound I-40 to take Interstate 81 Northbound to Interstate 26 Eastbound and then back to I-40
Eastbound in North Carolina.
News Sentinel online producer David Goddard
was at a dentist’s office in downtown Jefferson City with his children Wednesday afternoon when “I
saw a huge plume of smoke and I started seeing semis drive by. I thought, ‘There must have been a
big wreck and they’re diverting traffic.’ ”