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2 killed, 8 injured in church van accident

HAYS, Kan. (BP)–Arkansas Baptists Ann Cripps and Bridgette Millsap, members of First Baptist Church of Gentry, were killed in a church van accident early March 15 near Hays, Kan.

The duo was among several church members en route to Colorado for a youth ski trip when the fatal accident took place.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, a church caravan consisting of the church van, a bus and at least two cars was traveling to Winter Park, Colo., for a spring break ski trip when the van, which was carrying at least 10 people, went off the roadway at 6:24 a.m. Saturday.

Cripps, 35, was killed and eight others injured in the van accident. Millsap, 18, who was traveling in one of the other vehicles was killed when she was hit by a car while crossing the interstate to help those injured in the van.

According to Johnetta Bilby, church secretary of the Arkansas congregation, injured in the accident were Kyla Sexton and Jade Shawver, both 13, and Gentry volunteer firefighter Vester Cripps, 39, who were all taken to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kan.

Shawver was released from the hospital Sunday, March 16. Cripps and Sexton remain hospitalized. Bilby said Sexton suffered two pelvic injuries from the accident, as well as a collapsed lung. Cripps has five fractured vertebrae and a punctured lung.

As of Monday, Bilby said James Harrington, 22, was listed in fair condition at the Hays Medical Center. Bonnie Fox, 18, Katie Baker, 13, Casey Wright, 12, and Ryan Walker, 12, were all treated and released from Hays Medical Center.

Bilby said church members who were not hospitalized made their way back to Arkansas Sunday and Monday.

The church held a special prayer service, as well as counseling sessions, Sunday morning for members and families touched by the accident. To help in the healing process, Bilby said the church will hold a critical incident debriefing Tuesday evening, March 18, for those returning from the accident, their families and any others grieved by the accident.

According to a report in The Benton County Daily Record, church officials thanked the American Red Cross for providing food and housing to the remainder of the group in Hays, Wal-Mart for providing food and assistance to the families who lost a loved one and the McDonald’s in Hays for providing food.

The church also thanked the Holy Families Elementary School of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Hays for providing a place for the members to congregate and wait for those picking up children to take home.

Funeral services for Millsap will be held Wednesday, March 19 at 10 a.m. at the Gentry church. Cripps’ services are planned for Friday, March 21.

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  • Stella Prather