Survivors of deadly TN bus crash return to thank hospital - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Survivors of deadly TN bus crash return to thank hospital

Survivors meet with hospital staff that saved their lives (Source: WBIR) Survivors meet with hospital staff that saved their lives (Source: WBIR)

Survivors from a Statesville church group that was involved in a deadly bus crash last year have returned to Tennessee to thank the people who helped them.

A church bus from Front Street Baptist Church was involved in the collision and six church members were killed. It happened along Interstate 40, outside of Knoxville, in October 2013.

Survivors Sandy Boyer and Benny Eldridge were among the survivors who met with members of the University of Tennessee's medical staff on Thursday.

"These are family. When I looked up I saw them, that's why I came," Boyer said. "That's why I came."

It has taken many of them months to recover, some are still healing.

"To see him up and walking is amazing. I was expecting him to be in a wheelchair so to see him up and moving is amazing," physical therapist Emily Fico said of survivor Marvin Boyer.

The crash occurred on Interstate 40 westbound near mile marker 423 as the group was returning from a festival. The driver of an 18-wheeler and the passenger in a SUV were also killed in the crash.

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.

Troopers said the investigation showed the wreck was caused by a tire blowout. The church-owned bus 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.

"I lost my memory when I gut in the wreck. Except what people have told me," Benny Eldridge said. "But the care they gave us, the things they done for us. Makes all the difference in the world."

The survivors say they wanted to thank the people who saved their lives, but they know it wasn't just about the medical care they received.

"We stopped at a quick pick market today. And a young man said 'let me shake your hand. I want you to know I was praying for you'," Boyer said. "All over this state and other states just to know that a lot of people were praying. Every day we find someone new. To God be the glory."

The church group also plans to host appreciation meals for the first responders and law enforcement.

Copyright 2014 WBTV. WBIR contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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