North Carolina church, community remember bus crash victims

North Carolina church, community remember Jefferson County bus crash victims

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A flower-filled wreath and a bouquet of yellow flowers have been placed in front of Front Street Baptist Church. Church members say they appreciate everyone's support. A flower-filled wreath and a bouquet of yellow flowers have been placed in front of Front Street Baptist Church. Church members say they appreciate everyone's support.
"It's been a tremendous out pouring of live and support from all around the community and beyond," said Pastor Rick Cruz. "It's been a tremendous out pouring of live and support from all around the community and beyond," said Pastor Rick Cruz.
Members of the American Red Cross arrived to the church Wednesday night to help those affected by the crash. Members of the American Red Cross arrived to the church Wednesday night to help those affected by the crash.
"I definitely knew some people on the bus. I've heard some of the names. I'm sure it's people from all around the community," said Mayor Constantine Kutteh. "I definitely knew some people on the bus. I've heard some of the names. I'm sure it's people from all around the community," said Mayor Constantine Kutteh.
I have literally received hundreds of emails of support from all over this nation and even in southeast Asia," said Pastor Tim Stutts. I have literally received hundreds of emails of support from all over this nation and even in southeast Asia," said Pastor Tim Stutts.

STATESVILLE, N.C. (WATE) - Members and pastors at Front Street Baptist Church as well as community members in Statesville, N.C. are mourning the victims killed in Wednesday's bus crash on I-40 in Jefferson County, but are thanking the community for their support.

Six senior members of the church were killed in the crash. Twelve others were injured.

A flower-filled wreath and a bouquet of yellow flowers have been placed in front of the church. Church members say they appreciate everyone's support.

"We are thankful for all the prayers and support we've been receiving. It's been a tremendous out pouring of live and support from all around the community and beyond," said Pastor Rick Cruz.

Members of the American Red Cross arrived to the church Wednesday night to help those affected by the crash.

"We are providing emotional support. We have case workers here at the church and we are providing food and comfort to all the family members, their friends, and the entire community," said Jennifer Franklin with the Red Cross.

Church leaders say even though it's hard to bear the deaths of so many members, their faith is keeping them strong.

"We know God is in control and we know he is able to heal, even in this difficult time. We do rejoice in the fact that six of our lived ones are in heaven with The Lord right now," said Pastor Cruz.

The tragedy has also been difficult for the entire community.

"We've learned today we've lost three that we know personally and a wife of a customer," said Marsha Williams.

Williams is the owner of Family Friendly Restaurant, which is located down the road from the church. She says everyone is thinking about the victims.

"Just our thoughts and prayers are with those who are struggling," she said.

The mayor of Statesville also knew some of the victims.

"I definitely knew some people on the bus. I've heard some of the names. I'm sure it's people from all around the community," said Mayor Constantine Kutteh. 

The mayor says there are plans in the works to have a memorial service for all the victims, but for now the mayor is encouraging the community to come together.

"Just pray and be ready to respond, that's what I told the people yesterday individually and as a community. We are a good group. We will reach out. We always do," said the mayor.

Pastor Tim Stutts speaks in Knoxville

Front Street Baptist Church Pastor Tim Stutts gave a news conference at UT Medical Center in Knoxville Thursday afternoon. He has been at the hospital visiting surviving victims and families of victims.

"This has been one of the greatest tragedies our church has experienced and the community has experienced. Our hearts are broken for the family members, our church family who have lost family members as well as others who were lost in the accident. Our hearts are broken, but our faith is strong," said Pastor Stutts.

"Sometimes when we enter situations like this people like to ask questions. 'Where is God in this?' And I can tell you firsthand, over the last 24 hours, I have seen the hand of God in the state troopers, in the medical center here at the University of Tennessee, and the pastoral care team here at UT. I have seen it in the Red Cross, not only here but in Statesville. Our community has come together. I have literally received hundreds of emails of support from all over this nation and even in southeast Asia," he said.

"Our God is at work and our God has not forgotten us."

6 News Reporter JOSH AULT contributed to this report.

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