Troopers: Deadly TN bus crash that killed 8 'just a tragic crash - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Troopers: Deadly TN bus crash that killed 8 'just a tragic crash'

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KNOXVILLE, TN (WBTV) -

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says a bus crash that killed eight people along Interstate 40 last October was 'just a tragic crash.'

Monday morning troopers unveiled the results of their investigation into the October 2, 2013 crash.

A church bus from Front Street Baptist Church, in Statesville, was involved in the collision and six church members were killed.

The crash occurred on Interstate 40 westbound near mile marker 423. The driver of an 18-wheeler and the passenger in a SUV also died in the crash. The victims ranged in age from 24 to 95 years old.

During a press conference held in Knoxville, Tennessee on Monday, troopers said the investigation showed the wreck was caused by a tire blowout.

The investigation shows that the 1997 Metrotrans Europa Motorcoach, owned by Front Street Baptist Church, had a left-front tire failure that caused the driver to lose control.

Investigators believe the tire hit something about 50 miles before it blew out. They determined there was not a defect in the manufacturing of the tire.

"This was a tragic event that claimed the lives of eight individuals by no fault of any one person," Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott said. "We tasked local troopers, members of our Critical Incident Response Team and Criminal Investigation Division to conduct a thorough investigation that found no evidence of impairment on any drivers involved in the crash, no evidence that the drivers were distracted and no evidence that the bus was not well-maintained."

Investigators say five members of the church were ejected from the bus during the crash.

Bus driver, Randy Morrison, and his wife, Barbara Morrison were killed in the crash.

Other victims from the church were Cloyce Matheny, Brenda Smith, Marsha McLelland and John Wright. All are from Statesville except Wright, who is from Mocksville.

Twelve other church members were injured in the crash.  The group was returning from the 17th Annual Fall Jubilee at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

Pastor Tim Stutts said church staff members watched the press conference from Tennessee live on television. They've been waiting to see what the report would say for seven months.

"There's a relief that that part of the process is behind us, but the reality of the accident is that our hearts grieve daily," he said.

During its initial investigation, troopers said the bus veered across the median and into oncoming traffic after a tire blew out, hitting a sport utility vehicle and a tractor-trailer, which caught fire.

Troopers said that the wire median barrier was not made to handle the weight of the bus.

"This tragedy was the result of blunt force impact to the front tire that weakened its internal structure and caused the tire's failure. There was no evidence of any pre-existing condition to the tire," Colonel Trott said.

"It was an accident and we continue to keep those affected in our thoughts."

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