Pastor and young passengers killed in church van crash
EARLY COUNTY, GA (WALB) – Four people are dead and 15 are struggling to stay alive in the hospital after a church van crashed near Blakely, GA Sunday night.
The Columbus, GA church group from Tabernacle of Prayer and Deliverance was traveling to Quincy, Florida for a church revival when a back tire blew out, overturning the vehicle and ejecting most of its passengers on Highway 27 near Cuba Road.
Troopers say the young pastor of the church 35-year-old Apostle Ron Williams was one of the four people killed in the horrendous crash that sent more than a dozen people flying to the pavement.
Authorities say the passengers killed included 13-year-old Jasmine Shelly, 19-year-old Cameron Freeman and 20-year-old Jennifer Walton.
We are told the 15 survivors were initially taken to Miller and Early county hospitals for treatment, but several have been airlifted to hospitals in Tallahassee and Dothan.
Kids, parents, and even elderly church members from Tabernacle of Prayer and Deliverance church in Columbus were on board a 1987 Dodge Ram Wagon van headed to Florida for a revival when a tire blew out.
[Read: Church van accident blamed on tire blow out]
The scene on Highway 27 near Cuba Road (just outside of Blakely, GA) Sunday night shook even veteran state patrol troopers.
"Apparently the right rear tire failed, causing the driver to lose control, cross a median, and overturn," said Trooper Jeromy Roberts, Georgia State Patrol.
Papers, clothes and shoes littered the scene as investigators tried to piece together the moment that changed so many lives.
"We had small children to senior adults inside," said Trooper Roberts.
Monday morning, Pastor William's church remained empty, but we found his picture on a sign in the church front window.
A stark reminder to us all how much can change in just an instant.
According to Apostle Williams Facebook page he attended Albany State University but we have not confirmed that with his family or the school. We tried calling the church but no one answered.
The crash remains under investigation by the Colquitt Post of the Georgia State Patrol and the Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team.
News Leader 9 and WALB are following this developing story. We'll have the latest information as soon as it becomes available.
©2010 WALB News. All rights reserved. WTVM contributed to this report.