2 women injured in TN bus crash return home

by: Catherine Bilkey Updated:


STATESVILLE, N.C. - Two women who survived the Tennessee church bus crash are home Saturday night. Others are doing better, including Doris and Steve Swaim. They are stable and responsive.

Doris and Steve have spent many years together at the church, volunteering. Steve teaches Sunday School. Doris plays piano for the church.

"Doris has played the piano since I was a small child," friend and neighbor Kellie Kerley said.

Their lives changed forever on Wednesday. Their church bus, coming back from a conference, crashed into an SUV and a tractor-trailer, taking the lives of six of their closest friends. Both Doris and Steve made it out of the terrible wreck and were rushed to a Knoxville hospital.

"Latest that we've heard, they're stable and doing well,' Kerley said.

But for an inseparable couple who have been married for 45 years, being apart, in separate hospital rooms was another obstacle. Steve wouldn't let it stand in his way. Kerley says he snuck out

"And went down to Doris' room," Kerley said.

They had both been injured in the crash.

"He said he felt bad, but when he saw her, it kind of hit home even more," Kerley said.

They're on a long road to recovery, but church members are waiting for them to come home to Statesville.

"Hopefully they'll be able to get back on their feet and Doris will be back to playing the piano soon," Kerley said.

Sunday, there will be a special service at Front Street Baptist Church at 11 a.m.

Wanda Martin's family told Eyewitness News they are blessed to have her back in Statesville.

The 63-year-old was on the bus with other members of Front Street Baptist Church. She was traveling back from a church trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., when the bus blew a tire and crashed into oncoming traffic.

"Seeing the wreck, it was hard to believe anyone came out without serious, critical injuries," said Debbie Martin, Wanda Martin's sister-in-law.

Wanda Martin wasn't ready to talk on camera, but Debbie Martin said her sister-in-law remembers a lot from the day of the bus crash. She was sitting on the right side of the church bus when the tire blew and the bus crashed into oncoming traffic.

"She said it flipped numerous times and when it came to land it landed on her right side," Debbie Martin said.

She showed us pictures of Wanda Martin's right arm. She said the crash crushed the arm, her hand and fingers.

"In the ambulance she said she heard them calling back to the hospital to say possible amputation of the two fingers because they were so badly mangled. So they did an excellent job saving her fingers and her hand."

Wanda Martin has about 200 stitches in her right hand and arm, but family members said they expect her to make a full recovery and get back to what she loves.