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Tennessee Pastor Is Only Survivor of Texas Plane Crash That Killed 4 Church Members

Texas plane crash
Wreckage from a small plane appears on a field off of County Road 462 on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, outside Yoakum, Texas. (Chase Cofield/The Victoria Advocate via AP)

Pastor Kennon Vaughan is the lone survivor of a Texas plane crash that occurred Tuesday morning and killed four members of his church: the executive pastor, an elder and two staff members. Harvest Church, located in the Memphis suburb of Germantown, Tennessee, has been posting regular updates about Vaughan’s physical condition.

“Kennon was given an epidural last night which really helped to ease his pain,” said the church in its latest update Thursday at 12:28 p.m. “An hour ago his doctors said that Kennon was progressing as expected and he was able to sit up in a chair and drink fluids as well. The continued prayer is against any infections as his internal injuries continue to heal. Thank you again for your prayers as they are cherished by our church and the Vaughan family.”

Texas Plane Crash Kills 4, Injures 1

On the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 17, a single-engine Piper PA-46 crashed outside of Yoakum, Texas, as it was preparing to land at the Yoakum Municipal Airport. On the plane with Kennon Vaughan were executive pastor Bill Garner, church elder Steve Tucker, and church staff members Tyler Patterson and Tyler Springer. Tucker owned the plane and was its pilot.  

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) are investigating the Texas plane crash, which the FAA currently says occurred “under unknown circumstances.” According to ABC News, residents say the weather conditions Tuesday morning were foggy.

On Tuesday at 12 p.m., Harvest posted on its website, announcing the deaths of Garner, Tucker, Patterson and Springer. “All were beloved members of Harvest Church and their loss currently leaves us without the proper words to articulate our grief,” said the church. “Kennon Vaughan is in stable condition in a Texas hospital. We ask for your prayers and kindly request that the families of all involved are given the proper space to grieve at this time.”

Harvest said that its worship center would be open from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. “for a time of prayer and mourning with Harvest elders, staff and fellow members.”

Dr. Kennon Vaughan is the lead pastor of Harvest Church, according to an archived biography on the church’s website. He is a husband, father of five boys, and the founder of Downline Ministries in Memphis, Tennessee. Downline’s mission “is to encourage a restoration of biblical discipleship in and through the local church by equipping men and women to know God’s Word and make disciples.”

In his bio, Vaughan said, “It is such a privilege to pastor a church so loving, so authentic, and so deeply committed to God’s Word and the Great Commission, and I stand in awe at the work God is doing in and through Harvest to make disciples in our community and to the ends of the Earth.”

Further updates from Harvest Church reveal that Vaughan was intubated and underwent surgery Tuesday night for “significant internal injuries.” The surgery was successful, and the pastor was able to come off the breathing tube and communicate to his wife through writing. Harvest did state, however, that Vaughan would require further surgeries. 

“As of this evening Kennon is resting and it seems that some of his pain is easing for which we are incredibly grateful,” said the church on the night of Jan. 18. “Please pray for God’s hand to continually bring healing to Kennon’s body and for the strength of God’s spirit to sustain Kathryn who remains by his side. Kennon has been communicative today and undoubtedly feels your prayers.”