©2013 NPT PHOTO BY SETH BUTLER Cosby’s Brittany Oglesby prepares to serve during the opening game of Monday night’s District 2-A championship game with Berean Christian.
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
(Last modified: 2013-10-03 20:34:22)
Author: Seth Butler
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

A passenger tour bus wreck in the westbound lanes of Interstate 40 in Jefferson County, shut down the highway in both directions shortly after 2 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.

As of 4:30 p.m, the THP has confirmed eight fatalities in the accident - six of which came from the bus. Fourteen others were injured in the accident, with four transported by air to area hospitals.

The wreck occurred in the westbound lanes of I-40 at Mile Marker 422 in Jefferson County. Preliminary information released by the Tennessee Highway Patrol indicates multiple fatalities in the three-vehicle accident. A tractor trailer and a passenger vehicle were the other two autos involved.

The preliminary release by the THP also indicates that the bus was traveling eastbound on I-40 and when it's left front tire blew, the bus crossed the median and into a tractor trailer and clipped an SUV in the westbound lanes.

According to multiple reports, the bus involved in the crash was from Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, NC. The bus was returning from a trip to Gatlinburg. Dionne (Woody) Stutts, the wife of Front Street Baptist Church senior pastor Tim Stutts, is a native of Newport. She told the Associated Press that her husband and another pastor were on their way to the scene of the accident.

TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi released via his Twitter account that traffic will be rerouted for a "long-term closure."

Traffic in Newport is not being allowed to access Interstate 40 westbound.

At the scene of the accident and at other points on I-40, traffic is being diverted around the closure on the Interstate via two sources. West bound traffic is being detoured at Exit 424 onto State Route 113 to White Pine, to State Route 341, where traffic will enter I-81 South at Exit 4. Originally traffic had been routed from Exit 424 onto Highway 25/70 and then State Route 92 in Dandridge to Exit 417.

Eastbound traffic is being officially detoured onto I-81, where they will be sent to I-26 in Johnson City and then to Asheville, North Carolina, to reach I-40.

For more on this breaking story, continue to check NewportPlainTalk.com and see the Thursday edition of the Plain Talk.

Copyright © 2014, The Newport Plain Talk