BLAKELY, Ga. (AP) _ An aging church van headed to an out-of-state revival blew a tire on a highway and flipped repeatedly, ejecting all 19 people on board and killing the pastor, his daughter and two others, authorities said Monday. A woman who survived told investigators that "everybody just flew out of the van,'' said Early County coroner Todd Hunter.
BLAKELY, Ga. (AP) _ An aging church van headed to an out-of-state revival blew a tire on a highway and flipped repeatedly, ejecting all 19 people on board and killing the pastor, his daughter and two others, authorities said Monday.
A woman who survived told investigators that "everybody just flew out of the van,'' said Early County coroner Todd Hunter.
"She said she remembered rolling, but didn't know if she was rolling inside or outside of the van,'' Hunter said.
In addition to those who died, 15 passengers were injured in the crash Sunday evening on U.S. 27 south of Blakely, said Gordy Wright, spokesman for the Georgia State Patrol.
The dead included Apostle Ronmyka D. Williams, the 35-year-old pastor of the Tabernacle of Prayer and Deliverance in Columbus, and his 13-year-old daughter, Jasmine Shelly, said the pastor's brother, Michael Williams.
The State Patrol identified the other two killed as 20-year-old Jennifer Walton and 19-year-old Cameron Freeman. All were from Columbus. They named the driver as Kenasha Seldon, 29, from Shiloh, Ga.
Michael Williams said the pastor's wife, Timika Williams, and their infant son, Prince, were among those hospitalized but their injuries did not appear to be serious. Other church members were hurt badly, he said.
"A couple of them are actually going through surgery,'' Michael Williams said. "Another is having trouble breathing. They're trying to get her to breath on her own. One of the children has bleeding on the brain, they're trying to get him stable.''
Wright said the passengers ranged in age from 11 months to adults in their 40s. He said all 15 survivors were taken to hospitals, with several being airlifted to hospitals in Tallahassee, Fla., and Dothan, Ala.
Wright said it appears no one in the van was wearing a seat belt.
"They were all ejected,'' Wright said. "Anytime you have an ejection, especially in a crash like that, the injuries are going to be serious.''
The 1987 Dodge Ram Wagon van was on a 150-mile drive from Columbus to a revival in Quincy, Fla., when a rear tire blew out, causing the driver to lose control, Wright said. The vehicle hit the median and flipped several times.
No other vehicles were involved in the crash.
The van, with an intended capacity of 15 passengers, was from William's Columbus church. A phone listing for the church was disconnected.
Investigators haven't determined how fast the van was traveling. But the stretch of highway where its rear tire blew out has a posted speed limit of 65 mph.
The pastor started his small church about five years ago with services held in his brother's home, Michael Williams said. Since then it's moved to a storefront in a modest Columbus shopping center.
"It's not a big church,'' Michael Williams said. "It's a storefront church of maybe 30 members.''