The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports eight people have died and another 14 were injured as the result of a collision between a passenger bus, a tractor-trailer and a Chevy Tahoe SUV on westbound I-40 in Jefferson County.
The accident happened at approximately 2:00pm Wednesday near the I-81 split. The bus was carrying members of the Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, NC, on their way home after attending a Christian festival in Gatlinburg.
Tennessee Highway Patrol officials say six of those who died were on the bus, including the driver and his wife. An occupant of the SUV and the driver of the tractor-trailer were also killed.
Investigators at the scene believe the bus suffered a mechanical failure, sending the eastbound bus across the median and into the westbound lane, where it struck the Tahoe and the tractor-trailer. The bus turned onto its side and the tractor-trailer erupted in flames.
TDOT shut down traffic in both directions for nearly twelve hours. The road opened early Thursday morning. Approximately 38,000 vehicles move through that section of highway each day.