| Nashville Tennessean
MEIGS COUNTY, Tenn. —The Tennessee Highway Patrol reported that two people have died in a school bus crash in Meigs County on Tuesday afternoon.
The crash occurred north of Chattanooga, and involved a Service Electric Company utility vehicle.
A Tennessee Highway Patrol official said the vehicle crossed in front of the bus and the driver was unable to stop in time. The driver of the service vehicle is being treated for minor injuries.
At a news conference Tuesday night, authorities told reporters that a 7-year-old girl and the bus driver died in the crash.
There were 22 children on the bus when the crash happened. Five were airlifted to a regional hospital, and two were taken by ambulance, officials said.
Blood Assurance, which collects blood for hospitals in the area, announced it had a “critical need” for blood donations due to the injuries.
“This is a very tough day,” said Director of Schools Clint Baker. “Never in your wildest dreams when you go out the door in the morning do you think you’ll deal with something like this.”
Baker said the Tennessee Department of Mental Health Services was sending professionals Wednesday to help the community.
District Attorney Russell Johnson said the investigation into the crash is ongoing.
“The story is yet to play out with this investigation,” he said.
“Maria and I are deeply saddened by the loss of life and injuries sustained from the school bus crash in Meigs County today,” Gov. Bill Lee said in a tweet. “We offer prayers of comfort to the families who are hurting tonight and our full support to the community in the days ahead.”
“No words can express our sympathies for those lives that were lost,” Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said in a statement. “We send our deepest condolences to the students, families, school staff and leaders, district staff and the entire Meigs County community affected by this tragic accident and wish healing for all those injured.”
Contributing: The Associated Press.
Follow Brinley Hineman on Twitter @brinleyhineman.