• Survivors remember those lost in fatal church bus crash

    By: Catherine Bilkey


    STATESVILLE, N.C. - The pain is still very real at Front Street Baptist Church, but in all the tragedy, there is hope.

    Two survivors of this week's bus crash have been released from the hospital, and for the first time, one victim told Eyewitness News about the crash that took so many of her friends' lives.

    "I remember hearing the loud pop and something hit me in the back of the head and that knocked me into the aisle," Brenda Jolly said.

    She's still suffering from a head injury from the crash.

    "I was just lying there in pain ... I remember saying 'God, if this is going to be it, I'm ready,'" Jolly said.

    But it wasn't the end for Jolly, who was rushed to a Knoxville hospital alive, but in pain. She had just lost six of her friends on the way back from a church retreat in Gatlinburg.

    "One special one was Cloyce Matheny, the 95-year-old," Jolly said. "We had just sat out the day before on the deck of the motel talking. He was just a dear friend."

    And Jolly isn't the only survivor out of the hospital. Wanda Martin is also on her way home. Her family and friends can't wait to hug her again.

    "I just want to get her flowers and stuff and just let her know I'm always here," Brittany Eccles said. "I know she saw some of her friends die ... I can't imagine."

    And while the family at Front Street Baptist Church lost many loved ones Wednesday, church members haven't lost faith.

    "It was by the grace of God that we survived," Jolly said. "Those who did not … are with the Lord now."

    She believes the six have made it to their final home in heaven.

    For anyone wishing to donate online to the Front Street Baptist Family Support Fund please click here.

    For updates on victim's conditions from the church, click here.

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