For months, a tight-knit group of seniors at a North Carolina church had been looking forward to the road trip.
It was a tradition for them to attend the annual Fall Jubilee in Gatlinburg, Tenn., a three-day event featuring gospel singers and speakers.
But on the way back to Statesville, N.C., on Wednesday, the church bus carrying the members blew a tire, veered across a highway median and crashed into a sport utility vehicle and tractor-trailer in a fiery wreck that killed eight people.
Fourteen other people were hurt in the accident in northeastern Tennessee, including two who were in critical condition.
Front Street Baptist Church members are still waiting for more details. But many said they are worried. None of the victims have been identified.
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A church bus from North Carolina crashed on a Tennessee interstate, killing eight people.
A spokeswoman for Tennessee's Safety Department confirms there are multiple fatalities and injuries in the interstate bus crash between a passenger bus, a tractor-trailer and another vehicle.
Spokeswoman Dalya Qualls said in an email the bus was traveling in northeast Tennessee when it crossed the median and struck the other two vehicles. The tractor-trailer caught fire and the bus overturned.
The accident has shut down Interstate 40 in Jefferson County.
The bus belongs to Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville. The church told the NBC station in Charlotte that its senior/adult group were returning from a gathering in Gatlinburg when the accident happened.
WBIR in Knoxville says of the eight killed, six were passengers on the bus, one in the tractor trail and another in an SUV. Fourteen other people were injured in the crash.
According to troopers, the bus blew a tire, causing the accident.