The bus, owned by a North Carolina church, was carrying a group of senior citizens home to Statesville, N.C., from a religious jubilee in Gatlinburg Wednesday afternoon when one of its tires failed, causing it to swerve into the oncoming lane of Interstate 40 in Jefferson County, Tenn.
The bus sideswiped an SUV, hit a tractor-trailer and overturned. The truck caught fire fire, CNN reported.
"The crash is so horrific, it's probably the worst I've seen in my career, Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Miller, a 17-year veteran, said, adding some of the bodies aboard the church bus were burned or otherwise made unrecognizable, hindering efforts to identify them.
Six of those killed were aboard the bus. The truck driver and one person in the SUV were also killed, WBIR-TV, Knoxville, reported. Fourteen people injured in the crash, two critically, were taken to University of Tennessee Medical Center.