Pickup driver, child among injured recovering from McMinn van crash

A pickup truck hit a church van carrying eleven children in McMinn County. July 9, 2015

(WBIR-ATHENS) Several people including a child and an 18-year-old man whose truck struck a church van, resulting in a crash that hurt 11 children, were recovering Thursday night in East Tennessee hospitals.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the crash happened just before 9:30 a.m. near the intersection of Highway 30 and McMinn County Road 554.

The van was carrying 11 children, between the ages of 4 and 8, who were attending a day camp hosted by the Zion Hill Baptist Church in Englewood.

Troopers said Zachery Crager, 18, of Decatur, Tenn., was driving the pickup truck that crashed into the van. Crager said his brakes failed.

He was cited for failure to maintain an operating vehicle. Crager was taken to Starr Regional Etowah Hospital, then transferred to University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

Gary Culberson, 61, of Etowah, was driving the van. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Etowah. A front seat passenger, Whitney Martin, 27, of Englewood, was flown to UT Medical Center by medical helicopter. Martin is recovering.

Eleven children on the bus suffered injuries. One of those, Kaiden Boyer, 6, was taken to UT Medical Center for treatment.

Ten other children were taken to Starr Regional Etowah Hospital:

Brayden Martin, 4, from Englewood, Tenn.
Matthew Nichols, 8, from Englewood, Tenn.
Javon Batts, 6, from Etowah, Tenn.
Thomas Underwood, 6, from Etowah, Tenn.
Amos Landerth, 6, from Englewood, Tenn.
Casin Lee, 6, from Reliance, Tenn.
Noah Ownbey, 6, from Etowah, Tenn.
Jesse Holden, 6, from Etowah, Tenn.
Clark Patterson, 6, from Englewood, Tenn.
Aaden Fry, 6, from Athens, Tenn.

10News spoke with an eye-witness who watched the accident unfold.

Amanda Collins said she saw guardsmen from the next-door Tennessee National Guard Armory spring to action. She said they ran to assist the children in the van and called 911.

"I'm glad it happened so close to where some one could get to them," said Collins.


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