Siblings remember parents, bus driver who died in TN bus crash

by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Ronnie Morrison and his sister Rebecca Johnson came to the University of Tennessee Hospital Thursday looking for more information about their parents' deaths.

They are still in shock over this crash, never thinking when they first heard about it, that their parents were on the bus.

They said they're pretty sure their dad, Randy Morrison, was driving. Officials confirmed Thursday afternoon that Randy Morrison was driving the bus.

"If you needed something and they had to do without to give it to you, they would," said Ronnie Morrison.

Ronnie Morrison and Rebecca Johnson want people to know about their parents, Randy and Barbara Morrison. The siblings found out Wednesday night their parents had died in the wreck.

Morrison said his mom and dad had commercial drivers' licenses and drove the church bus for years.

Being part of the church and helping others was just what they did.

PHOTOS: Victims in deadly Tennessee bus crash


"Any time anybody needed anything they called Randy and Barbara because they are right there and knew they would get there as soon as they could," Ronnie Morrison said.

That's why Ronnie Morrison said he's sure his dad was thinking about everyone else on that bus -- when this crash happened and did everything he could to prevent it.

Ronnie Morrison said his father was an experienced driver who worked on tractor-trailers for years.

"He never worried for himself. I'm sure, it was always other people," Ronnie Morrison said.

Johnson said she's finding peace in her faith and hoping her faith and community prayer will help her family and her church.

"We were raised in the church to know Jesus and know our momma and daddy are with him right now in heaven," she said.

Church Senior Pastor Tim Stutts said his members’ hearts are broken, but their faith is strong because of the troopers, doctors and the strangers who have helped.

"I have literally received hundreds of emails of support from all over the nation even as far as southeast Asia," Stutts said.

Stutts said the church will never be the same after the crash.

“They are pillars in the church, pillars in our community. Our church will not be the same from this point forward because we have lost some terrific people,” Stutts said.

Troopers said they are looking to see if a tire problem caused the crash.

If that's the case, troopers said it would have been very difficult to control a bus this size and weight once that tire was lost.

Read more on how the safety records of the bus are being investigated here.

Statesville community members in mourning over loss of friends

Channel 9 reporter Kathryn Burcham talked with community members who were devastated to learn they lost close friends in the deadly bus accident in Tennessee.

The sanctuary was open to the public to share in prayer and support.

All day there has been a steady stream of visitors from the community and even other churches in the area.

Neighbors of two of the victims told Channel 9 the hole left behind can’t be filled.

“I lost a good friend and a neighbor. They are just like family to me,” said neighbor Velma Sherill.

Sherill has lived next door to Barbara and Randy Morrison for more than three decades, directly across the street from the church that was their second home.

“They would bend their backs over to help you,” Sherill said.

The Morrisons would often drive Sherill to run errands in town and Randy mowed the lawns of his elderly neighbors every summer.

They were the kind of people who gave it all, neighbors said.

“Barbara and I have been friends since our children were real small and grew up together,” said friend Carolyn White.

White is a member of the church’s Young at Heart group that was returning from their weekend trip to Gatlinburg when the crash occurred.

White said she almost went on the trip but was too sick to go.

Now she can only think of her dear friends, those still fighting to live, and those who died, leaving behind a legacy in the community that won’t be forgotten.

“She was a beautiful Christian and her husband was always at church, always cooking, wherever they were needed,” White said.

Church members told Channel 9 they are planning a memorial service for the victims likely to be held on Sunday.

The Red Cross has grief counselors at Front Street Baptist Church Thursday to meet with grieving church members.     

Red Cross officials said they are assisting the victims’ families and providing support to the church.

Officials said the outpouring of support from the community has been overwhelming.

“It’s probably one of the most difficult situations in their entire life to have a family member on a trip and then not knowing what has occurred,” said Red Cross representative Jennifer Franklin.

 Red Cross officials plan to stay at the church as long as they are needed.

Read more on how Barbara Morrison mentored children at a Statesville school and how they are dealing with the loss here.

Read more on the details of the crash here and questions surrounding the bus' safety records here.

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