COMMENTARY: Tsali Manor Seniors thankful after bus scare  

by Mar 24, 2023OPINIONS0 comments

Submitted by Deb West on behalf of Tsali Manor Cherokee elders


On the evening of Dec. 8, 2022, Tsali Manor Senior Citizens were on their annual Christmas outing to Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

After enjoying The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s Dinner show, we were going to drive through Pigeon Forge and see the Christmas Lights.  Having made a left turn instead of right, we were going to make a U-turn and go back thru town.  While making the left turn, I suggested to driver, Sam Crowe, that could we just circle on around because most of the little side roads circle back into the main highway.

Aside from the rain, it was a very nice and pleasant evening.

While stopping at a stop sign on a small incline, the back of the bus began to slide and dropped off the pavement.  There was no shoulder, and we had no idea what was beyond the edge.  The bus was leaning sideways with the front tires several feet off the ground.

Shaken but unhurt, most were afraid to move for fear of causing the bus to rock and maybe slide more.

Once our driver called 911, it was within minutes first responders, police, firetrucks, and many more emergency folks were there.  Danny Ellis, Director of Transportation with Sevier County School System provided a school bus.  Two ginormous wreckers secured our bus, and everyone was helped off.  Folks were assisted onto the school bus and brought back to the hotel.  Once back at the hotel there were several of the emergency responders waiting to assist everyone getting off the school bus.  We were so grateful for these men.

An ambulance was also on hand.

While it was a very scary ordeal, we must commend our driver, Sam Crowe, for his composure and total concern for everyone’s welfare.  Although we could see the worry on his face, everyone reassured him that he had done all he could, and it would be ok.  Sam apologized profusely, but it was all in God’s hands. We appreciate Merritt Youngdeer and the men for leading prayers and all the silent prayers as we waited on the bus to be rescued.

With all the Emergency workers from the Pigeon Forge and Sevierville area, there are so many to say thank you too, and I’m sure we can’t name them all.  But, please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.  We truly appreciate the gentle care and help you gave our Tribal Elders.

First and foremost, we Thank God above.  He was with us.  He protected and prevented harm to everyone.

Great care was taken to help folks off the bus as the door was practically facing the ground.

Thank you Sam Crowe.  You always offer the most assistance, care, and concern while on all our trips and, you are greatly appreciated.