According to CBS 4 News, a church in Gainesville, Florida, is paying for the burial plots of five children who were killed in a crash last Thursday afternoon.
“I cried so much this morning that my tears felt like lava running out a volcano,” said Eric Descant, pastor of the church the victims attended.
The church made the announcement about the burial plots during a memorial service it held for the victims. “Our church has decided that we want to buy the burial plot of all five of the children. So we are going to be doing that. If you want to get on board with that you are welcome to,” said Jimmy Toney, pastor of the Pentecostals of Gainesville.
The Pentecostals of Gainesville held the memorial on the evening of Sunday, January 6. Called a “Night of Hope and Healing,” about 300 people attended. One member told a Jacksonville news station, “(We’re here) to support the church and what they’re doing for all the people who were injured and killed… It’s just so horrific.”
Another told CBS 4 News, “There’s no way that we can put into words the measure of sorrow that anybody could feel at a time like this, so the strength that we gain from one another just can’t be measured and I think it is a very important thing that we join together.”
The accident occurred when a semi truck collided with another vehicle while traveling northbound on I-75. They then crashed through the guardrail into the southbound lanes and hit another semi truck as well as a church van, which contained the children who died.
The semi trucks spilled around 50 gallons of diesel fuel, which caught on fire and exploded. A fifth vehicle was unable to avoid the crash and drove through the debris, possibly hitting some of the victims who had been ejected.
Four other children and three adult women were also in the church van. The group was from the Avoyelles House of Mercy (AHM) in Marksville, Louisiana, and was headed to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
The drivers of the two semi trucks were among the fatalities, and at least eight people who survived were injured, including Karen Descant, Pastor Descant’s wife. One of the children who died in the accident was the pastor’s granddaughter.
In addition to holding the service and purchasing burial plots for the deceased children, the members of the Pentecostals of Gainesville are providing for other needs. The church has provided food and hotel rooms for the victims’ families and even purchased a plane ticket so that a boy injured in the crash could travel back to Louisiana. During the memorial service, Pastor Descant thanked the church members for all they had done, including praying for the victims, saying, “You made sure we were taken care of.”
Despite the tragedy that he and his church family have suffered, the pastor declared his belief in the goodness of God, noting that he is only able to persist in this belief because of God: “I couldn’t stand here tonight if it were not for the Holy Ghost. I couldn’t. But God is faithful, and He’s worthy to be praised.”