TODAY   |  October 03, 2013

Church bus and trailer collide in deadly highway accident

The Front Street Baptist church bus crashed head-on into a tractor trailer and SUV on Wednesday, causing a shutdown on a major Tennessee interstate. At least eight people were killed in the crash, and 14 others were critically injured. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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>> eight people were killed, 14 others injured after a church bus crashed into a tractor-trailer and an suv in tennessee shutting down a major interstate for hours. nbc has more on this. janet, good morning.

>> reporter: hi, natalie. this was a horrific accident. park authorities believe by a tire that blew out. now, in addition to the eight people who died from three separate vehicles, 14 are here at the hospital this morning. two of them are critical. what should have been homecoming kaim became an agonizing wait, family and friends waiting for news, whether their loved ones survived a deadly crash near knoxville.

>> we do appreciate all the prayers that has been given. this is a time of difficulty.

>> reporter: the church bus was headed east on interstate 40 when the left front tire blew. they say it veered over a median going directly no oncoming traffic. hitting an suv and burst into a tractor-trailer. the highway was soon closed in both directions.

>> we will look at the braking system and make sure the bus was operating properly. we will look at other possible mechanical failures that could have led to this incident.

>> reporter: at least eight people are dead, including six seniors on the bus, return frack a gathering in gat lynn burg, tennessee. 14 others were rushed to the university of tennessee medical center .

>> this is a very active investigation. it will be ongoing several days. our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and to those who are injured.

>> reporter: interstate 40 , a major to ro fair, has reopened this morning. it is still a waiting game for family and friends on the bus. they are awaiting official notification on their loved ones . natalie, back to you.

>> our thoughts and prayers are