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Church Van Was Nearly at Revival When Tragedy Struck

It was hit from behind, killing 4 and injuring 7
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 29, 2019 3:37 PM CDT
Updated May 29, 2019 4:08 PM CDT
This Tuesday, May 28, 2019, photo provided by the Virginia State Police shows a Ford pickup truck after crashing with a church van on U.S. 460 in Ford, Va.   (Virginia State Police via AP)
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(Newser) – Members of a close-knit church community in central Virginia were in shock Wednesday after four people were killed and seven others were injured in a van crash on their way to a revival at another church, the AP reports. Virginia state police said the van carrying 11 people from Shiloh Baptist Church in Blackstone was slowing down on US Route 460 to make a right turn into the parking lot of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Ford Tuesday night when it was rear-ended by a pickup truck hauling metal. The van rolled over several times before coming to rest on its side off the right side of the road. The pickup truck ran off the left side of the road and hit a guardrail. The four people who died were identified by police as James Farley, 87; Wartena Somerville, 36; Delois Williams, 72; and Constance Wynn, 85.

Michael Somerville, a deacon at Shiloh Baptist Church, told WWBT-TV that his wife, Wartena, was a teacher at Crewe Primary School and sang in the church choir. He said the two have a 9-month-old daughter. The truck driver was identified as Robert Lee Allen, 47, of Norfolk. Sgt. Keeli Hill, a state police spokeswoman, said charges are expected to be filed against Allen after police consult with prosecutors. Seven other passengers remained hospitalized Wednesday. Allen was treated for minor injuries at a hospital and later released. Lafayette Dickens, a deacon at Shiloh Baptist Church, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the van was carrying choir members who had been invited to sing at the revival. He said other choir members were traveling in a separate car and witnessed the crash. Dickens said he and other members of his church are in "absolute shock." (They were returning from a church retreat when an accident killed 13.)


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