School bus tragedy reopens painful memories of 2000 crash in Tennga

(Image: WTVC)

Until Wednesday's tragedy in Brainerd that left 5 children dead and several others injured, the last school bus accident involving fatalities in the NewsChannel 9 viewing area was on March 28th, 2000.

That crash involved a bus crossing in front of a train in the small community of Tennga, where Murray County, Georgia and Polk County, Tennessee come together.

The early morning crash killed three north Georgia elementary school children.

School bus driver Rhonda Cloer was driving seven children to Northwestern Elementary on bus 9808.

They never made it.

Cloer crossed in front of an oncoming train.

9-year-old Daniel Lee Pack, and 6-year-old Kayla Cheyann Silvers died at the scene. 9-year-old Amber Dawne Pritchett was taken to the hospital and died the next day.

Four other children were injured, but survived. They were Brittany Gaddis, 8; Jordan Manis, 6; Kevin J. Sherrill, 8; and Kayli Cloer, 5, bus driver Cloer's own daughter.

A federal investigation followed. That investigation concluded loud music was blaring on the bus and Cloer never yielded to the train.

This was not the only recent school bus tragedy in the NewsChannel 9 viewing area.

On August 27th, 1955, a 100-car train heading southbound struck the rear of a Rhea County school bus as it crossed the tracks on the south end of town. 47 children were on the bus. 11 of them were killed in the crash. Read more about that story from our partners at the Rhea Herald News here.

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