(Photo: WATE 6 News Screen Shot)
An I-40 crash has left at least eight people dead on Wednesday afternoon in Jefferson County, Tennessee after a church bus ploughed across the median and slammed into a tractor-trailer and passenger vehicle on the other side.
The horrific crash is said to have taken place at about 2 p.m. local time near the mile marker 423. The shocking crash forced officials to close down both lanes of the highway as emergency crews filled the site.
Tennessee Department of Safety spokeswoman Dalya Qualls has said that the church bus was traveling eastbound when suddenly veered over the median and crashed into oncoming traffic.
The bus smashed into a tractor-trailer as well as an SUV head on, resulting in shocking damage to the vehicles and the deaths of eight people.
Qualls reported: "(The bus) traveled across the median and struck a tractor-trailer and passenger car that were traveling westbound. The tractor-trailer caught fire and the bus overturned. There are multiple fatalities and injuries at this time."
According to various local media reports, six people from the church bus, which was carrying "senior adults," died in the collisions, and one person from the tractor trailer, as well as one more from the SUV also died.
Numerous others were seriously injured in the crash as well.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol has reported that at least four victims were transported via helicopter to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.
A number of others were taken via ambulance to other area hospitals.
The reason for the bus suddenly veering across the median is still unclear and investigators are still trying to establish the cause of the accident.
Officials are expected to release further information as details become available as their investigations develop.
Here is a video showing footage from the aftermath of the tragic accident in Tennessee Wednesday: