The congregation of Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, N.C. is shaken today as reports come in that eight of the church's members have died in a three car accident in eastern Tennessee.
Yesterday afternoon, around 2 p.m., a group of seniors was returning home after a the 17th annual Fall Jubilee in Gatlinburg, a Christian event that features singers and speakers from around the country. According to Tennessee Highway Patrol, around mile marker 423 on Interstate 40, the bus' "left front tire experienced a malfunction or failure" which caused it to veer across the median and slam into an SUV and a tractor trailer. Upon impact, the bus overturned and the trailer caught fire.
As of today, 12 people are still being held as local hospitals treat injuries. Two people remain in critical condition, seven people are considered serious, while three more are classified as stable.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which typically investigates these instances, is unable to send personnel to the scene after having furloughed its investigators amid the U.S. government shutdown. The resulting investigation has been left to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, who are reporting that it may take several days to positively identify the deceased.
The congregation of this stricken Baptist Church has asked for prayers from those concerned about this terrible accident.