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Baptist teenagers involved in bus crash; pastor’s wife hurt

ST. MARYS, Ga. (BP)–A bus carrying dozens of high school students to a band competition flipped on its side on Interstate 95 on April 6, injuring about 20 students, some of them seriously.

The bus was part of a two-bus convoy from Massey Hill Classical High School in Fayetteville, N.C., said Lt. William Terrell of the Camden County Sheriff’s Department.

At least 14 students on the bus attended Southern Baptist churches in the Fayetteville area. The group’s director, Steve West, is the music director at Massey Hill Baptist Church. He was not injured.

Leigh Faircloth, a music assistant at the school and the wife of Cedar Creek Baptist Church pastor Rodney Faircloth, sustained minor injuries in the crash.

“We are really worried about her, but the pastor was able to talk with her on the phone and she’s going to be OK,” said a spokesperson for the church. “The pastor rushed out the door and is on his way to Georgia to be with her.”

David Weeks, pastor of Massey Hill Baptist Church, said he heard about the crash just before 9 a.m. “I spoke to our music director’s wife and he’s really torn up about this,” Weeks told Baptist Press. “He was in the lead bus and wasn’t hurt, but this is a terrible thing.”

West told WJXT in Jacksonville, Fla., that he was in the process of calling parents of the injured students.

“I haven’t cried in 20 years,” West told WJXT about watching a critically injured teenager being loaded onto an air ambulance.

A church secretary at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church told Baptist Press at least three of their students were on the bus. One student called to let church leaders know he was not injured. However, there was no information on the condition of the other two members.

Nick Smith, the minister of education at Village Baptist Church, said there were two students from their church on the trip.

“To our knowledge they are OK,” said Smith, who has been fielding numerous calls from concerned parents. “The phone has been ringing off the hook.”

Police say that 22 of the 46 people on the bus were injured when it flipped onto the driver’s side, shattering most of the windows.

The students were on their way to a band competition in Orlando, Fla. They were part of a group of 100 students traveling from Massey Hill to the band competition.

Terrell said 20 students were taken to the hospital. Four were airlifted to a trauma center in Jacksonville, Fla., and three others were taken by ground. The rest were being treated at Camden Medical Center in St. Marys, Georgia, he said.

Massey Hill Classical High is a public magnet school that stresses traditional academics, the arts and civic responsibility.

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  • Todd Starnes