JEFFERSON COUNTY, TN -- A bus from a Statesville church crashed in the Knoxville area Wednesday afternoon, resulting in multiple fatalities, according to the wife of a pastor from the church.
Tennessee Highway Patrol worked a crash involving the bus, a tractor trailer, and a car on I-40 in Jefferson County, about 40 miles east of Knoxville on Wednesday afternnon. Twenty ambulances and five medical helicopters responded to the scene.
The bus originated from Stateville's Front Street Baptist Church. A family member of the church's youth pastor tells NBC Charlotte that pastors from the church are headed to the crash site.
Front Street Baptist
According to the church's website, a group from the church, Young at Heart, a group of seniors, visted a Fall Jubilee in Gatlinburg.
Additionally, sources tell NBC Charlotte that officials from the church have been unable to reach members of their congregation who were known to be on the trip.
Eight people have died in the crash, 14 are injured. Authorities say of the injured, eight are in critical condition, two are serious, and four are stable.
NBC Affiliate WBIR reports that of the eight fatalities, six are from the passenger bus, one from the tractor trailer, and one from the passenger vehicle.
The bus was traveling eastbound on I-40 near mile marker 423, when it crossed the median and crashed into a Chevy Tahoe. Then, authorities say the tractor trailer struck the bus.They continued that the tractor trailer caught fire, and the passenger bus overturned.
The tractor trailer was fully engulfed when first responders arrived on the scene.
Nearby witnesses told reporters on the scene they heard loud booms at the time of the crash.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol's preliminary investigation indicates a tire on the front of the bus blew, prompting the driver to lose control.
My prayers go out to Statesville's Front Street Baptist Church members and others involved in a 3-vehicle crash in TN today.— Pat McCrory (@PatMcCroryNC) October 2, 2013
I-40 is closed in both directions at mile marker 423 in Jefferson County. Traffic is being diverted.
The National Transportation Board was contacted in regards to the crash, but the Tennessee Highway Patrol doesn't believe they'll get involved in the investigation.
If you believe you have a loved one who was involved in Wednesday's crash, call the Red Cross at (865) 305-5716.