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Bean Station, TN Greyhound Bus And Truck Collide, May 1972



The worst traffic accident in Northeast Tennessee history -- the collision Saturday morning of a Greyhound bus and tractor trailer on U.S. 11-W which killed 14 persons including a Kingsport housewife -- spurred new demands Saturday night for completion of Interstate 81 from Knoxville to Kingsport.
Senator Howard Baker called the grinding crash, which reduced both vehicles to masses of twisted junk, "catastrophic evidence of the intolerable hazardous conditions which exist on this highway."
MRS. WANDA CAMPBELL, 26, 117 Warrior Dr., was among the dead. DON BOSWELL, 20, 2008 Westwind Dr., was critically injured, while MRS. ELLEN DELANEY, 905 Maple St., suffered a broken leg and was listed "fair" Saturday night.
Baker said he has urged National Transportation and Safety Boards representatives to make a full investigation of the accident, and hopes "this tragic loss of life will spur immediate action to avoid further carnage on this highway."
The senator pointed out that only last Wednesday, in hearings before the Roads Subcommittee of the Public Works Committee, he had demanded that Transportation Secretary John Volpe halt policies which delay construction of interstate highways and which penalize states like Tennessee which have already completed much of their own interstate systems.
Baker said he asked Volpe to speed apportionment of funds to fill in gaps between Tennessee's existing sections of Interstate.
With Interstate 81 still under construction, U.S. 11-W is a major artery for north and southbound truck traffic and has one of the highest accident rates of any road in Tennessee.
"Because of the heavy truck traffic on that highway," commented Tennessee Highway Patrol Capt. Guy Nicholson, "It was just a matter of time until something like this happened."
"I hope they do something about that highway," said J. GUY BOSWELL, father of the injured youth. "With a four-lane road, I feel sure it wouldn't have happened."
The Kingsport victim, MRS. CAMPBELL, was the wife of Harvey F. Campbell. They moved to Kingsport three months ago from his home town of Concord, Tenn., she was reared in Lenoir, N.C. They had no children.
CAMPBELL said his wife flew to East Chicago, Ind., a week ago to visit her mother, Mrs. Mavis Fletcher, and that the mother had decided to return with her to Kingsport for a visit. MRS. FLETCHER, 55, also was killed.
Young BOSWELL, a sophomore at the University of Tennessee, was coming home for the weekend. He suffered broken ribs and a wrist and apparently serious neck injuries, and was listed
"critical" Saturday night at St. Mary's Hospital in Knoxville.
His father is employed by Tennessee Eastman Co., and his mother is a teacher at Sullivan Elementary School.
MRS. DELANEY, a registered nurse at Holston Valley Community Hospital, was transferred to Kingsport from Morristown - Hamblen Hospital. She suffered a broken leg and other injuries.
MRS. DELANEY reportedly told nurses at the hospital she was asleep when the accident happened, and awoke on a stretcher.
The bus was split in two by the impact and the tractor-trailer, loaded with tar paper and paint, exploded in an inferno that melted much of the vehicle.
Greyhound said the bus was bound from Knoxville, Tenn., to New York City by way of Roanoke and Washington. It had left Knoxville at 3:40 a.m. EDT, 10 minutes behind schedule, and was to have arrived in Roanoke at noon.
Authorities declined to speculate on the cause of the accident, but investigators were checking reports the bus may have skidded after rounding a curve.
Capt. Nicholson said the dead included the drivers of both vehicles and 12 of the 27 passengers on the bus. The 15 injured bus passengers, three of whom were treated and discharged, were taken to hospitals in Morristown, Knoxville and Kingsport.
Bean Station is a small community on 11-W about midway between Knoxville and Kingsport. The wreck occurred almost in front of the Bean Station Baptist Church.
Nicholson said the northbound bus hit the tractor-trailer almost headon in the southbound lane on the narrow, twisting highway at 5:50 a.m. EDT.
There were five children on the bus. Three were killed, one was injured, and one escaped unharmed.
The bus driver was identified as FRANK FLICK of Roanoke. BOBBY G. GARRISON of Gadsden, Ala., was driving the truck.
Fourteen persons were dead on arrival at Morristown - Hamblen Hospital, located about 10 miles south of the accident scene. Eight others were admitted to the Morristown hospital, three were taken to St. Mary's hospital in Knoxville, and one was taken to Kingsport.

To MRS. THEA JACKSON of Mobile, Ala., one of 15 survivors of Saturday's bus-truck collision, it was a "nightmare."
To Grainger County Rescue Squad member Jesse Atkins it was "terrible, terrible ... I don't understand how anybody got out alive."
"The people were torn all to pieces," said rescue crewman Allen Farmer of Morristown. "There were bodies all over the road."
MRS. JACKSON, who was entoute to Beckley, W. Va., where her daughter is hospitalized with pneumonia, said she was asleep when the crash occurred and was awakened by a rap on the head. She said she heard a baby crying, the bus motor still running .. and then it was "panic."
MRS. JACKSON suvvered a cut leg in the accident, said that after she was jolted awake she heard someone saying, "Turn off the motor."
"My first thought was of the emergency door and I pulled up on the handle. I don't remember how I got out of the bus. It seems like I must have been in there for two hours, but I found myself outside the bus and I was standing in the rain."
"It sounded like a case of dynamite going off," said JESSE COFFEY, 27, a welder who was in bed when the collision occurred outside his Bean Station home. "I jerked the curtain back and saw the truck sliding down the highway. The bus was just sitting there, torn all to pieces."
COFFEY said he rushed to the bus and began pulling victims from the rubble. "I heard a baby crying. Some guy was hollering, 'help me! help me!'"
"The motor of the bus was still running and we cut if off for fear the bus would catch fire. There was no way to tell how many people there were on the bus because they were torn up so bad," he said.
COFFEY said there were several children aboard.
"We got two out that were alive and we found one in the back of the bus that was already dead."
Rescue Squads from surrounding towns used crowbars, air hammers, and acetylene torches to tear away the wreckage so the victims could be removed.
"I crawled into the wreckage and one woman was standing up -- completely surrounded by metal," said one rescue worker. "I looked down and saw her toe wiggling and saw that she was still alive. It seemed like it took forever to get her out."
"The bus was split wide open and people were lying everywhere. Most of the dead were taken from the upper deck of the bus," said State Trooper David Burke of Morristown, first officer to reach the scene.
Although it had been raining throughout the East Tennessee area, the rains did not reach Bean Station until shortly after the accident.
"The road was bone dry at the time," said Burke. He added that there were no skid marks.

Authorities identified the following persons as being among those killed in the Bean Station bus wreck:
BOBBY G. GARRISON, driver of the tractor trailer truck, from Gadsden, Ala.
FRANK FLICK, the bus driver, Roanoke, Va.
ARTHUR B. LAYTHE, 50, Webster, Mass.
DUANE HALE BAIRD, 31, White Pine, Tenn.
WANDA CAMPBELL, 26, Kingsport.
MRS. MAVIS FLETCHER, 55, Chicago, Ind. (mother of WANDA CAMPBELL).
MARY DUNBAR, no age, Forsythe, Ga.
CLARA HARRIS, no age, Collinsville, Ala.
Efforts were still being made late Saturday to identify three other adults and three children killed in the accident.
Persons injured included:
ISABELL TYREE, Philadelphia, Pa.
NORMAN LEVINE, Virginia Beach, Va.
DOT BRYANT, Memphis, Tenn.
WILLIAM BRYANT, Memphis, Tenn.
HAROLD KYLE, Rossville, Ga.
JOHN D. GIKAS, Brooklyn, N.Y.
DENNIS J. CARPENTER, address unknown.
DON BOSWELL, Kingsport.
LORNA MERRILL, Whitefield, N.H.
Those on the bus who were not injured in the wreck were:
THEA JACKSON, Mobile, Ala.
The unidentified five-month-old daughter of CECIL and MARY DUNBAR, of Forsythe, Ga. The mother was killed in the accident.

Kingsport Times - News Tennessee 1972-05-14


Unidentified Child and Mary Dunbar

The unidentified child in this accident is my Aunt Susan Dunbar and Mary Dunbar one of the fatalities is this accident was my grandmother. I have tried researching this accident because I know only what my mother has told me about it. My mother has also tried to research it. If anyone has any information about this accident they would like to share please feel free to email me at and put bean station in the subject so i know what it is. Thanks!

P.S. To the one who listed that they adopted one of Susan Dunbars children I am his cousin and would love to be able to communicate with him if possible. Thanks again!

The unidentified child

The name of the unidentified child of Mary and Cecil Dunbar is Susan Dunbar. I know this because I adopted one of her sons. The DFCS report that was given to me after the adoption told of this story. Although Susan thought she was the only survivor. We found out through research for our adopted son's family history that his mom was the child mentioned in the event. He was touched and realized that had his mom died in that horrific crash, he would not be alive today.

rethe1972bus tragedy

my mother and baby sister was also on that bus . my dear mother lost her life my sister survived she was 5 months old. i can feel your grief

One of the one's listed as killed

My Mom's name is listed as one of the people killed in this accident. Thankfully they checked her again and found a pulse!

Patty Laverne Odom Nunley

Hi Janelle,
I believe I have information for Patty Laverne Odom Nunley
However her birth year is 1937
If so, she is a McClearen from Farmers Exchange. Hickman County Tennessee
Daughter of Pauline and Charlie

Thank you
Terry Odom

Paty Laverne Odom Nunley

I am working on a Grundy County TN cemetery book, & Patty is buried in Bethel Cemetery. I would like to have the names of her parents for the book. Please include her mother's maiden name if possible.

Patty L. Odom Nunley

I am looking for the parents of Patty L. Odom Nunley.

Patty Laverne Odom Nunley

I am working on a Grundy County Cemetery book. Patty Laverne Nunley is buried in Bethel Cemetery in Grundy County. I would like to know who her parents are. Patty was born in 1947 - died 1972 according to the tombstone.
Thank you for any help.

GrayHound wreck

Hello all well my name is Dennis Carpenter i was awake when the Bus or truck hit each other i was a pasanger that day i can never for get it i reamber being on the road and could not move i could here the people that were in the Bus asking for help and i could not do any thing as i to was hurt .i pray for all thores that was killed that day and yes i think of them all the time and ask my self why was it not me insted of them well i beleave i had a misson for god and help all thoes that need my help now and yes i have been a minister for over 10 years now and yes i will pray for them every night it has been a long time it was 1972 if you would like to get it touch with me here is my e-maill address

iI was there when it happened

I was on the bus when the wreck happend .I was awake when it happend i reamber it as clear as if it happen today.iI reamber hearing people asking for help.I could not do any thing as i was on the road and hurt iI could not move. I think od them all the time the ones that had died in the bus and the ones that were hurt .All i can say is this it was a bad day for all of us thank you for reading this Rev Dennis J Carpenter

article | by Dr. Radut