1 dead, 11 injured in I-40 wreck - WSMV News 4

1 dead, 11 injured in I-40 wreck

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MacKenzie Turner was killed after the church van she was riding wrecked near Waverly. MacKenzie Turner was killed after the church van she was riding wrecked near Waverly.

A church van from Columbia, Tenn., overturned on Interstate 40 in Humphreys County Thursday morning, killing a 14-year-old and injuring 11 others, according to law enforcement.

The wreck occurred at about 9 a.m. at exit 143 and State Highway 13.

The van from Destiny Church, driven by Bobby J. Sasser, 25, of Columbia, Tenn., was traveling east on I-40 left the right side of the roadway into the gore. The vehicle began to roll over. While rolling over, the van struck a pole. After hitting the pole, the van came to rest on its roof facing west.

The gray van landed on its top, which was crushed. Scattered in the grass were backpacks, water bottles and a first aid kit, among other debris.

The crash killed 14-year-old MacKenzie Turner, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

"They are a special group of kids," said church spokesman Bradd Kimes. "They are a tight group and it's a church that's all about supporting its community, and in times of tragedy the community has supported us.

"For us as a church, we ask that you pray for us and for these parents."

Three victims were transported by helicopter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Those were Shelby Hopkins, 12, Lewisburg, Tenn.; Sebastian Kerr, 13, Spring Hill, Tenn.; and Sidney Massey, 15, of Columbia.

The three patients at Vanderbilt were listed in stable condition late Thursday afternoon.

The others, including Sasser, were transported to Three Rivers Hospital in Waverly, according to the THP. Those were Joseph Penrod, 15, Culleoka, Tenn.; Austyn Kelley, 16, Culleoka; Thomas B. Morgan, 13, Columbia; Carleigh Yokley, 12, Columbia; Travis Ingram, 16, Mount Pleasant, Tenn.; David Andrews, 15, Columbia; Brooke Yokley, 15, Columbia.

Only Sasser and Carleigh Yokley were wearing safety restraints.

The Columbia Daily Herald, a WSMV news partner, interviewed Massey's dad, Phillip Massey, by phone from the hospital about 2 p.m.

He reported his daughter had suffered a laceration to her head and broken bones, he said, and was scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday afternoon for a broken arm.

"We're lucky — grateful that her injuries aren't worse than they are. There's nothing that won't heal up," Massey said.

The van was returning from an overnight trip from Munford, Tenn., about 25 miles north of Memphis. The group had attended an overnight lock-in at the Munford River of Life church. Troopers are investigating the possibility that the driver fell asleep.

No other vehicles were involved in the wreck.

The Destiny Church was founded in 2007 by its current pastor, Steven Morgan. It began holding services in a home and is now located in downtown Columbia.

Morgan was in Guatamala on a mission trip at the time of the accident.

"The family of Destiny Church is deeply grieved over the death of MacKenzie Turner," Morgan posted on his Facebook page. "Our hearts and prayers are with the accident victims and their families."

The church's website says it now serves dozens of families.

The death of Turner is the second teen death the church has experienced in the past month.

On June 29, Sarah Graham, a senior-to-be at Summertown High, was killed along with Kyle Tate, 16, who attended Mount Pleasant High, when the car Graham was driving collided with a tractor trailer at the intersection of First Avenue and U.S. Highway 43 in Mount Pleasant.

Two other teenagers, Paxton Gilbreath and Ronald Harris, were injured.

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