Eight people were killed on a Tennessee highway today when a passenger bus carrying senior citizens from a church group crossed a highway median and struck a tractor-trailer and an SUV, authorities said.
The chartered bus from North Carolina was traveling eastbound on I-40 when the left front tire blew out and the bus then traveled across a median into westbound traffic, according to Tennessee Department of Safety spokeswoman Dalya Qualls.
The bus clipped a Chevrolet Tahoe and continued traveling until it struck a tractor-trailer, Qualls said. At that point, the tractor-trailer caught fire and the bus overturned, she said.
A bus owned by the Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, N.C., was involved in the crash and was full of senior citizens traveling home from an annual church event known as the Fall Jubilee in Gatlinburg, Tenn., a church spokesperson told ABC News.
Of the 18 people believed to have been traveling on the bus, six were killed, according to preliminary numbers released by the Tennessee Department of Safety.
The only person traveling in the tractor-trailer was killed, according to officials, while one fatality was reported in the SUV.
At least 14 people were believed to have been injured in the multi-vehicle crash.
Passengers have been transported to UT Medical Center and Jefferson Memorial Hospital, authorities said.
Traffic has been re-routed as authorities work to clear the scene.