Two people are confirmed dead and nine injured after a Chevrolet Blazer struck a church van head-on Sunday morning on Chapman Highway south of Seymour in Sevier County.
According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, out of those injured, two died on the scene.
The injured were taken to UT Medical Center where the Blazer drivcer remains in critical condition.
The van was from the bus ministry of Cedar Grove Baptist Church of Blount County. The van was one of at least two from the church returning from a retreat when the crash occurred. One unconfirmed source said the church youth pastor who was driving the van was killed as his wife, who was driving another van watched helplessly. The second van was not involved.
Jeff Trussle, 45, of Maryville was the van driver. Two persons trapped in van did not survive. The injured in the van were between the ages of 13 and 22.
Authorities say the Blazer veered into oncoming traffic and hit the church van head-on near Zion Hill Road. The van wreckage went into a ditch and burst into flames. Authorities had not released the identities of the dead or injured as of 3 p.m. when authorities reopened Chapman Highway.
Lt. Danny Thomas of the Tennessee Highway Patrol corrected an earlier report that the Blazer drive had died. Lt. Thomas at 5:45 p.m. Sunday confirmed he is in critical condition and charges are pending. Authorities said Tyler Schafer, 22, of Seymour was driving the Blazer. According to the THP, he had narcotics on him when he arrived at UT Medical Center.