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Fla. man lost 7 grandchildren, then died after hearing news

HAWTHORNE, Fla. (BP)–Calling William Edward “Ed” Scott one of the most loving and truthful men he ever met, Johnny Goodwin said the grieving grandfather was overwhelmed with pain and heartbreak on hearing his seven grandchildren were taken from him as the result of a fiery accident in Florida Jan. 25 involving a stopped school bus and a tractor-trailer rig.

“I’ve never ran into this much heartache like I have with this one,” said Goodwin, bi-vocational pastor of the tiny Ochwilla Baptist Church in rural Hawthorne, Fla.

Recounting the last hours of Scott’s life, Goodwin told the Florida Baptist Witness he was with the long-time member of the church when the retired grandfather was told the children of each of his two daughters had been killed. Scott, 70, was the chairman of the deacons.

“I was with him when he said, ‘Pastor, I’m hurting all over so bad and I don’t know if I’m going to make it,’” Goodwin recounted, also recalling Scott had undergone open heart surgery in the past.

The family’s tragic situation began the afternoon of Jan. 25 when a three-vehicle accident occurred near Lake Butler in North Florida. Scott’s seven grandchildren were in a car which had stopped behind a school bus returning students home from three rural Union County schools. The car was rear-ended and sandwiched between the bus and a tractor-trailer on State Road 121, exploding on impact.

All seven in the car perished and nine children aboard the bus, their driver Lillie Perry, 46, and the truck driver, Alvin Wilkerson, 31, were injured.

Five of those who died were the children of Scott’s daughter, Barbara (Scott), and her husband, Terry Mann.

One of the five, 15-year-old Cynthia Nicole “Nikki” Mann, was from Mann’s previous marriage and the others were her three adopted siblings, Elizabeth Mann, 15; Johnny Mann, 13; and Heaven Mann, 3. Also killed were 20-month-old Anthony Lamb, whose adoption was to have been finalized Jan. 26, and Terry and Barbara Mann’s nieces, half-sisters Ashley Keen, 13, and Miranda Finn, 8.

All three of the older siblings were members of Fellowship Baptist Church in Raiford, Fla., and the two youngest occupied the nursery whenever the church doors were open. The teen’s cousins, Ashley and Miranda, had just moved to Lake Butler, but had visited Fellowship Baptist previously and also visited previously at Ochwilla Baptist in Hawthorne.

Goodwin remembered Scott as a dependable person. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he retired from the Alachua County road department after about 35 years.

“He loved everyone and tried to help everyone he could. It would really get to him when somebody got hurt or needed help or had problems in their own family,” Goodwin said. “He was always there.”

Goodwin said the tradition of taking care of people through foster parenting and adoption was one which began with Scott and his wife after they blended several adopted children with their own “blood” children eventually to have five children.

“They come from a long line of adoption and fostering and adoption within the Scott family,” Goodwin said. “It’s a close-knit family on all sides.”

As a pastor, Goodwin said he has often been at the receiving end of that same kind of support and care.

“As his pastor, he was there 100 percent for me,” Goodwin said. “He was one of the finer men that I’ve ever met. What he tells you is the truth and what he tells you he will do, he will do.”

Scott is survived by his wife, Katie, and numerous other family members.

The following services were verified by Williams-Thomas Funeral Homes in Hawthorne and Archer Funeral Home in Lake Butler:

A memorial service for Cynthia Nicole “Nikki” Mann, 15, Elizabeth Mann, 15; Johnny Mann, 13; Heaven Mann, 3; and 20-month-old Anthony Lamb will be held at Union County High School in Lake Butler, from 6-8 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 29. A funeral service is planned for First Christian Church of Lake Butler on Monday, Jan. 30 at 11 a.m.

Viewing for William Edward “Ed” Scott is set for 5-7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 30, at William-Thomas Funeral Homes in Hawthorne. A graveside service is scheduled for 11 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 31 at Ochwilla Baptist Church cemetery in Hawthorne.

Visitation for Ashley Keen, 13, and Miranda Finn, 8, is set for 5-7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 31 at William-Thomas Funeral Homes in Hawthorne. Miranda Finn is survived by David Finn of Orlando and Amanda Scott, who also is the mother of Ashley Keen. Graveside services are set for 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 1 at Ochwilla Baptist Church cemetery in Hawthorne.

Two funds were set up to help the families with funeral and other expenses:

–The City of Lake Butler set up the Mann-Scott Family Fund at Community State Bank, 255 Southeast 6th St., Lake Butler, Fla., 32054. Donors also can call 386-496-3333.

–Donations can be sent to the Mann Family Memorial Fund at Mercantile Bank, 300 W. Main St., Lake Butler, Fla., 32054. Donors can call the bank at 386-496-2101.

    About the Author

  • Joni B. Hannigan, Florida Baptist Witness