NEW YORK (AP) — Members of a church that lost its bishop and five other members in a van wreck gathered Sunday for a service that had abruptly become a gathering of grief.
Congregants mourned the dead and prayed for survivors at Joy Fellowship Christian Assemblies, a small church in the Bronx, as state police farther north worked through the details of a crash they pinned on a blown-out tire.
Bishop Simon White and 13 others were on the New York State Thruway, headed to a church event near Schenectady, when a rear tire ruptured and sent their 1997 van hurtling out of control on Saturday afternoon, state police said. The van veered into a rumble strip and rolled over into the grassy median, throwing some of the passengers to the ground.
"It was a tragic, tragic scene," state police Troop T commander Major Robert Meyers said Saturday.
The bishop; his wife, minister Zelda White; pastor Titus McGhie and three others — Avril Murray, Evelyn Ferguson and Elaine Reid — died at the crash scene in Woodbury, about 55 miles north of New York City, state police said. Eight others were hurt.
All eight remained hospitalized at midday Sunday, state police Trooper Brian Kieckhafer said.
Bishop White founded the church in 1998 with about 20 members, including his family, according to the church's website. He later helped establish affiliate congregations in Schenectady and elsewhere in the state.
He and Zelda White had eight children, the site said.
Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz and Cristian Salazar contributed to this report.
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