Tennessee authorities say 8 people killed in bus crash on I-40 - WRBL

Seven of 8 victims identified in TN crash involving church bus, SUV, tractor-trailer

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(Source: Seth Howard via WATE) (Source: Seth Howard via WATE)
I-40 in Jefferson County is shut down due to a crash involving an overturned bus. (source: Seth Howard via WATE) I-40 in Jefferson County is shut down due to a crash involving an overturned bus. (source: Seth Howard via WATE)
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, TN (WJHL) -

The Tennessee Highway Patrol has identified seven of the eight people killed in a fiery church bus crash on Interstate 40 in Jefferson County, TN on Wednesday.

Bus driver, Randy Morrison and his wife Barbara Morrison, members of the Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, NC were killed in the fiery bus crash.

Cloyce Matheny, Brenda Smith, Marsha McLelland (all three from Statesville, NC) and John Wright, of Mocksville, NC. 

Officials also released the name of the passenger killed in the SUV. His name is Trent Roberts, of Knoxville. 

Authorities have not identified the driver of the tractor-trailer. 

Officials say the accident happened  Wednesday afternoon around 2:00 p.m. on I-40 westbound at Mile Marker 423 in Jefferson County. That's just past the I-40/I-81 split at mile marker 422.

The bus was carrying 18 members of the Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, N.C., which is about 140 miles east of the crash site. The group of seniors had been to the 17th annual Fall Jubilee in Gatlinburg, Tenn., a three-day event featuring gospel singers and speakers.

Inside the Statesville church, people were crying and hugging each other. One woman whispered "It's going to be all right" while hugging another woman.

George Stadfeld, who has been a member of the church for eight years, said he knew everyone on the bus.

"We're all shaken," he said. "As bad as it is, they're all Christians and I know where they're at. I'll join them later."

The Fall Jubilee website described the gathering as "three days of singing, laughing and preaching" for "mature and senior believers."

After the accident, a banner was posted on top of the website saying, "Our thoughts are with our friends at Front Street Baptist Church in their tragic loss. ... all the Jubilee team have you in our prayers."

Dionne Stutts, wife of Front Street Baptist senior pastor Tim Stutts, said her husband and another pastor from the church were en route to the wreck.

"They had been there and they were on their way home today," she said. "We are devastated and just ask for the people to be praying."

Officers say the bus was traveling eastbound on Interstate 40, when its front left tire blew out, causing the bus to travel across the median and clip a Tahoe traveling westbound on the interstate. The bus also struck at tractor trailer on the left side. As a result, the tractor-trailer caught fire and the bus overturned.

Three people were in the SUV and one was person in the tractor-trailer.

Six people who were on the bus were killed. One of the passengers in the SUV and the driver of the tractor-trailer also died as a result of the crash.

In all, 14 people were injured. The following list is from Tennessee Highway Patrol. 

Church Bus Injuries
  • Thomas L. Smith, 74, Statesville, N.C.
  • Joanna L. Elledge, 70, Statesville, N.C.
  • Benny Elledge, 72, Statesville, N.C.
  • Sandra Boyer, 67, Statesville, N.C.
  • Marvin Boyer, 74, Statesville, N.C.
  • Doris Swaim, 68, Statesville, N.C.
  • Steven Swaim, 68, Statesville, N.C.
  • Norma J. Hellard, 78, Statesville, N.C.
  • Beverly Wright, 62, Mocksville, N.C.
  • Brenda Jolly, 70, Statesville, N.C.
  • Wanda Martin, 63, Statesville, N.C.
  • Ed Mclelland, 64, Statesville, N.C.

Chevrolet Tahoe Injuries
  • Tim Wacker (front passenger), 28, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Jordan D. Payne (M) (Driver), 24, Knoxville, Tenn.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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