A Central Texas church is asking for prayers after losing three pastors in a crash on SH 130.
Police say the victims are Terry and Jan Whitley and Steve Timmerman. All three are pastors at the Grace Christian Center in Killeen. The church released a statement on its website saying it is with the deepest sorrow that we have to announce the passing of Pastors Terry, Jan and Pastor Steve.
Friends of the victims say the Whitleys were returning from a missionary trip to Bulgaria. Timmerman drove to ABIA to pick the couple up.
Pflugerville police say a preliminary investigation shows the rear right tire separated from the van and blew out causing the driver to lose control. The van flipped multiple times and into the southbound lanes of SH-130 near Highway 45 around 6:30 Thursday night. Witnesses tried to help the victims. Two died at the scene and the third at a nearby hospital. The speed limit on SH-130 where the crash happened is 80 miles per hour.
All three were wearing seatbelts according to Pflugerville Assistant Chief Jim McLean. He says this is the worst fatality crash inside city limits PPD has never responded to. McLean says the loss of life is tragic.
That sentiment is being felt by members of the Grace Christian family. Support poured in on social media.
Stephen Moore lives in Austin now but used to attend church at Grace Christian when he lived in Killeen. His mother still goes there.
"I'm at a loss," Moore explained. He says Pastors Terry, Jan and Steve touched thousands of lives. Pastor Steve will always hold a special place in Moore's heart. He prayed by his mother's hospital bed when she was ill several years ago.
"They are definitely in heaven right now. I know, the church knows and everyone who knows them knows they are in heaven," Moore said.
Memorial services are pending. The church will be open from 7-9 p.m. Friday for prayer.
Police will be back out early next week to reconstruct the scene. Rain delayed plans to do that Friday.