A Tennessee pastor has spoken out after he and 17 of his congregation survived a terrifying bus crash at the weekend. The group was returning home from a conference in Chattanooga when the accident occurred Saturday along Interstate 840 south of Nashville, which resulted in the bus leaving the carriageway and overturning. Though eight kids were sent to the hospital for treatment, no-one was seriously injured.
“We were spared. Could’ve been a lot worse. Could’ve been a lot worse,” Pastor Joshua Clark from Parrans Chapel Baptist in Bolivar told WSMV-TV. “We’re all here. We’re all safe. So, praise the Lord.”
Clark recalled how the group was headed along the freeway when a sudden gust of wind and a dousing of heavy rain blew them off track and caused the bus to lose traction.
“Right as we were trying to slow down, a big gust of wind [hit] and started pushing us,” he explained. “Rain, lots of rain came. It caused us to hydroplane as we tried to correct from the wind and that’s when all the sliding started.”
After the bus rolled and finally came to rest, Clark said that the group began scrambling out of the mangled vehicle.
“We crawled out of the top hatch of the top of the bus,” he said.
In an official statement released following the crash, Parrans Chapel Baptist said that the incident was unavoidable.
“Despite all efforts to drive safely it, unfortunately, could not have been avoided,” the church noted. “Thankfully, the Lord’s hand protected all the passengers and all walked away without any major injuries and were released after being evaluated at two different hospitals.”
The sister church who lent the bus to Parrans Chapel also issued a statement following the crash.
“We want to thank all who have reached out and prayed in the news of our bus wreck near Nashville last night,” Dixie Hills Baptist Church posted on Facebook. “A sister church in town borrowed it for a youth trip. They hydroplaned in bad weather and lost control. All are home. Praises for no serious injuries or lives lost!”
This is not the first church bus crash to occur in the state of Tennessee. In 2014, eight people were left dead when a North Carolina church vehicle experienced a tire blowout while traveling, clipped an SUV and careened head-on into a tractor-trailer on Interstate 40.
More recently, in January of this year, five children were killed when a Louisiana church bus crashed on a central Florida highway.