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Author Topic: Tennessee Bus Crash  (Read 3619 times)
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« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2013, 10:15:32 AM »

That is a good law, Tom.

We do need uniform licensing standards for drivers of large vehicles. To Clifford's post about the guy given the keys and sent on his way this happens far too often. I have a friend who never drove anything larger than his pickup and he bought a motor home. On his very first trip his wife (at a truck stop) was asking other drivers to back the motor home into a parking space because he could not. I think inexperienced drivers are on the road far more often than we want to recognize.

Other than an eye witness who was immediately behind the church bus and saw the tire blow out there are no other details regarding the accident. There is no question as to what happened. The left front blowout occurred, the coach which was in the LH lane left the eastbound lanes, went through the median, through the cable guardrail, struck the Tahoe in the rear, and then immediately struck the semi almost directly head on. After striking the semi which caught fire immediately, the coach rolled onto its side.

Beyond that the accident investigators are trying to piece together all of the information to determine if there were other factors involved in the accident. The news conference said they will be looking at speeds, mechanical issues including brakes on the coach, and the coach driver's background and experience.

Nobody has reported on any of the names of the deceased other than to say the semi driver and a person in the Tahoe died. The other six deaths were from the church bus, but it has not been reported if the driver was among them.


Current coach 2006 Prevost, Liberty conversion
Knoxville, TN
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« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2013, 10:20:02 AM »

The following is the latest news. The driver was clearly experienced.

KNOXVILLE — Three of eight people killed in a fiery church bus crash on Interstate 40 were identified Thursday by family members.

Randolph Morrison and his wife, Barbara Morrison, were among six who died on the bus that crashed into an SUV and tractor-trailer, which burst into flames, according to their son.

Ronnie Morrison spoke briefly with reporters Thursday at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. He said his father was the driver of the bus owned by Front Street Baptist Church of Statesville, N.C.

Jerry Wright in Statesville told the Associated Press that his brother, John Wright, 73, was killed while his sister-in-law, Beverly Wright, was seriously injured. She’s among the 14 patients being treated at UT Medical Center.

According to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, Randolph Morrison had a Class A commercial driver’s license, the highest-rated CDL in North Carolina. His wife, a retired school bus driver, had a Class B commercial driver’s license.

Investigators said Thursday in a news conference they are focusing on a tire malfunction as the possible cause of the crash.

The bus was carrying senior citizens from a Christian festival in Gatlinburg back to North Carolina when the crash occurred about 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The bus was traveling eastbound near mile marker 423 in Jefferson County when it crossed the median.

Investigators are sure the left front tire failed because the rim left gouge marks in the fast lane of the eastbound traffic, Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Miller said Thursday during the news conference.

Miller said it appears the bus impacted the 100-gallon diesel fuel saddle tank on the westbound tractor-trailer, causing the fire.

“That is a very strong possibility,” Miller said.

Six of those killed were passengers on the bus, one was in a Chevy Tahoe and one was the driver of the semi truck, which was from Louisiana. Miller said the rig was hauling a load of paper products but declined to say where it originated or was bound.

Authorities are not sure if the Tahoe had a Tennessee address, Miller said.

The University of Tennessee Medical Center said two of the injured remain in critical condition Thursday, seven others are serious and five are stable.

Miller said the THP is not releasing the names of the dead and injured until all of the families of the victims have been notified.

“We know all the names of all the victims, but we don’t necessarily have everyone identified,” Miller said.

All the names will be released at the same time, but Miller said that may not be for several days.

Some of the victims suffered burns, Miller said. He declined to say if any of the victims were ejected during the crash.

The interstate was shut down for about 15 hours, reopening about 5 a.m. Thursday.

There are no cable barriers on the eastbound side of the interstate, but the westbound side is equipped with the devices designed to stop vehicles from crossing the interstate.

Miller, however, said the 40,000-pound bus went right through the barriers.

“At 70 mph the bus is going to win out over the cables,” Miller said.

The bus was carrying members of a senior adult class, known as Young at Heart, from Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, N.C.

The church-owned bus was outfitted with seat belts, Miller said.

The seat belts did not hinder rescue attempts, according to Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency director Brad Phillips, because they simply cut the devices to free the victims.

Witnesses at the crash Wednesday knelt on the side of the road, saying prayers. Passers-by stopped to give aid to bleeding victims before emergency crews arrived.

One good Samaritan said he watched a woman die just as rescuers reached her.

“In my 17 years, this is probably the most serious incident I’ve been a part of,” said Miller. “There were three vehicles, and the dynamics were great. There are so many variables to this. It’s tremendous.”

The injured were taken by air and ambulance to the UT Medical Center in Knoxville. Bodies of those killed were to be taken to the Regional Forensic Center, officials said.

But the tedious investigation into exactly what happened — including what caused a tire on the bus to malfunction and possibly initiate the deadly chain of events — has just begun, Miller said.


The 17th annual Fall Jubilee in Gatlinburg ended after lunch Wednesday and the 18 members of the senior adult class from Front Street Baptist Church were headed home. The members had just wrapped up a festival billed as days of “singing, laughing and preaching” for mature believers.

As they traveled east on Interstate 40, near mile marker 423 and the Interstate 81 exchange, the front left tire on the bus failed. That sent the bus across the median, plowing through a steel cable barrier and into westbound traffic.

It then clipped the Chevy Tahoe in the rear of the driver’s side before T-boning the tractor-trailer on the left side, authorities said.

The white bus flipped, turning the church logo on the side of the vehicle toward the sky. The cab of the semi truck burst into flames that quickly moved to the trailer, which was carrying toilet paper and paper towels, Dandridge Fire Chief Andrew Riley said.

Riley said he could see the plume of smoke before he arrived on the scene, calling in additional units and support from area fire departments.

“You could hear the urgency on the radio,” he said. “Honestly, I said a prayer because I knew we were running into a bad situation.”

It looked like a war zone, he said.

State troopers, deputies and emergency personnel from multiple counties responded to the scene. Fire crews worked to extinguish the flames rising from the tractor-trailer. By 4 p.m. smoke continued to waft from the wrecked rig.

A Sevier County emergency dispatcher said fire and ambulance units were sent to assist Jefferson County at the scene.

The director of tourism for Jefferson County, Adele Sinseng, was in a tour bus with a group from Florida just a few vehicles away from the crash, Riley said. People on that bus rushed to help the victims, he said.

They weren’t the only ones.

“Some bystanders rendered aid until we got enough people there,” said Brad Phillips, head of the Jefferson County rescue squad. “There were some good samaritans out there.”


Fred Lucas, a pathologist who runs the lab at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in Ohio, was headed to Asheville with his wife, who is also a doctor at the hospital. The couple were about a quarter-mile away from the crash when they saw the cloud of black smoke.

Initially, he said, they thought it was someone burning tires.

“When we got there we saw the two vehicles, the truck and we didn’t know what the other vehicle was at the time, and we saw bodies all over the ground and some people walking around, bloody,” Lucas said. “One woman was obviously dead, and I pulled her away from the fire, and I pulled another live woman.”

Victims were moaning, but otherwise quiet and in shock, he said.

Lucas said his instinct to help just kicked in.

“Just get them away from the fire. Figure out who was alive and who was dead and get the live ones first,” he said.

Lucas and his wife helped treat victims at the scene, but without medical equipment, it was difficult, he said.

“I didn’t even stop to figure out who was who. There wasn’t any time for that,” he said.

One man had suffered obvious head injuries. A woman had her arm twisted awkwardly at the elbow, clearly broken.

“There was a body up in the woods,” he said.

Lucas commended the work of rescuers, adding that he deals with trauma at his hospital regularly.

Still, he said, this was as bad as anything he’s ever seen.

“One woman was alive when we got here, but died as the EMTs got to her,” he said.


As crews worked the scene an hour after the crash, curious spectators began to gather on an overpass roughly a half a mile away. Others parked on a side street and walked through the woods to stand on the interstate’s shoulder and watch firefighters douse the tractor-trailer.

Kenneth Thorkveen, who lives near the crash site, watched from the side of the road as emergency workers moved among the injured and dead. He said he watched about four or five helicopter flights out of the scene, he said.

The eight fatalities were all at the scene, Miller said Wednesday.

“We hope and pray that there will be no more” he said. “Our thoughts and our prayers do go out to their families and to the injured.”

The American Red Cross set up an assistance area inside UT Medical Center with about a dozen volunteers, including grief counselors, on hand to help family members and loved ones as they arrived throughout the night. The organization also provided a phone number for family members who need assistance or who are looking for victims: 865-305-5716.

Officials at the jubilee also extended their condolences to the families Wednesday. “Our thoughts are with our friends at Front Street Baptist Church in their tragic loss,” a statement on the jubilee website reads. “Pastor Johnny Hunt, the congregation at First Baptist Church Woodstock, and all the Jubilee team have you in our prayers.”

In the meantime, the Highway Patrol is leading the investigation, which will likely take several days, Miller said.

“It’s just one of those incidents that we can’t rush it, because if you rush it, you possibly lose critical evidence that you need,” he said. “We’ll do our best to get this investigation complete and be as thorough as we can.”

Among the questions still to be answered is what prompted the tire malfunction and whether that’s truly the cause of the accident.

The agency will also look into the background and experience of the bus driver, and test the brake system and other mechanics on the bus to “make sure the bus was functioning properly,” he said.

Maj. John Albertson of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security said there were motor coach investigators, post-crash investigators and accident reconstructionists working on the scene.

“It’s a very complete, detailed investigation,” he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates mass transportation wrecks, has been alerted to the crash, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. As of Wednesday evening, the agency was not planning to come to the scene, Miller said.


Current coach 2006 Prevost, Liberty conversion
Knoxville, TN
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