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Couple killed in church van accidentcomment (0)

July 20, 2000

By Greg Heyman

A married couple from Macedonia Baptist Church in Coates Bend near Gadsden was killed July 15 in a van accident as they began a youth missions trip to Gulf Shores. Several church members were injured, including one youth who received massive head injuries.

The accident occurred around 11:30 a.m. in the southbound lanes of I-59 near Springville. St. Clair County Coroner Dennis Russell said Lisa Johnson, 38, died at the scene. Her husband, 40, was taken to Carraway Methodist Medical Center, where a spokesperson said he died at 12:45 p.m.

Macedonia Minister of Music Jeff Sauls said one of the youth, Stephen Starr, 13, remained in the neuro-intensive care unit at Birmingham’s University (UAB) Hospital after sustaining head injuries.

“He is not out of the critical stage,” Sauls said at press time Monday.

Macedonia’s pastor, Dave Roberts and his wife, Faye, were also among the injured. Roberts, 46, was treated and released. Mrs. Roberts, 44, was still in the UAB Hospital on Monday.

Alabama state trooper K.W. Burton said the single vehicle accident apparently happened after the van driven by Roberts blew a tire. Burton said the vehicle momentarily left the road and then returned to the highway before crashing.

The injured were among 22 adults and students who were headed to Gulf Shores to participate in a week-long youth missions trip. Church deacon Wallace Usry said youth minister Tim Womack initiated the missions trips five years ago, with youth traveling to a different area each summer.

A second van driven by Womack was traveling ahead of the other van but was not involved in the wreck.

Usry said approximately 16 youth were participating in the trip, representing half of the youth group. He said the youth were taking the tragedy in stride.

“They’re feeling pain and disbelief,” Usry said. “This is a traumatic experience, but I think they’re handling it well.”
Sauls said the Johnsons’ only son, Wesley, who will be a high school senior this fall, was treated and released for injuries he received in the wreck.

“He’s doing fairly well,” Sauls said of the youth losing both parents. “He’s a great Christian young man.”

Sauls also offered praise for Charles and Lisa Johnson, describing them as “totally committed to this church and to God.”

Two other youth in addition to Starr remained in the hospital at press time Monday. “They’re improving,” Sauls said.

The Birmingham News reported Monday that Nathan Greer, 16, was in fair condition at Children’s Hospital after suffering a concussion. Sauls said Trey Strickland, 13, was in Children’s Hospital for treatment of a leg injury and facial damage.

The News said a fourth youth, Brett Collins, was treated for a broken ankle but was not admitted.

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