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Pastor holds on to resurrection hope after wife, daughter die in car crash

Hannah Joy and Brandi McDaniel, at left, were killed in a one-car crash Feb. 3 in Texas. Pastor Mark McDaniel survived the crash. At right is the McDaniels' older daughter Grace, who was not in the car.

VENUS, Texas (BP) – A Texas pastor whose wife and daughter died in a car accident after he lost consciousness at the wheel is resting in the hope of the resurrection in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Mark McDaniel was driving on Interstate 20 in Big Spring Feb. 3 when he lost consciousness around 2:30 p.m., according to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) incident report, crashing into a guardrail along the center of the divided interstate. His 17-year-old daughter Hannah Joy, asleep in the back seat, was partially ejected and died at the scene. His wife Brandi died within the hour at Scenic Mountain Medical Center.

“It is all catching up with me now, but I have been blessed in so many ways,” McDaniel, pastor of New Hope Community Church in Venus, told Baptist Press Feb. 12. “The Lord shows His great love and provision for me at each step. His kindness is so overwhelmingly evident.

“Yesterday I attended my church, and it felt like new bandages were being applied. Thank you to all for their prayers, love, and support.”

In an interview with local ABC affiliate WFAA just days after the accident, McDaniel offered the hope of the resurrection while describing himself as still in shock.

“The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 that we’re to comfort each other with these words – that one day a (trumpet) will sound. The Lord will return and gather His own,” McDaniel said. “My wife and my daughter will be raised up first, and then those who are living will be reunited with the Lord and go to be with Him forever. That’s the hope that I have. That I have put my faith in and enables me, and I hope that out of what we can share like this and other opportunities, that maybe people can gain some hope.

“It’s a tough time in the world, and we need some hope. We need people like my daughter and my wife, that have lived through it, and their legacy, and I hope that we can build on that.”

McDaniel was treated at the medical center for minor injuries. He and his wife Brandi had both suffered coughing spells in the weeks before the accident, he told WFAA. He recalled coughing uncontrollably before losing consciousness. He was observed unconscious after the wreck, DPS notes in its incident report.

“I feel very blessed by the amazing outpouring of love and support by so many people across the spectrum of my life, from my church, my friends, our friends, church families that we’ve been a part of,” said McDaniel, who has served at New Hope since January 2023. “I’m still in shock of it all, but I know with the people supporting me, I’ll get through.”

New Hope, which averages about 25 in Sunday worship, also spoke of godly hope in Feb. 11 worship that included songs sung the last Sunday Brandi and Hannah were in attendance two weeks ago.

“These songs will just have a deeper meaning for us now,” worship leader Sherry Neeley said before leading the congregation in a praise set including “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less,” “Cornerstone” and “Reckless Love.”

The McDaniels were returning home from a basketball tournament in Midland where Hannah Joy played for Pantego Christian Academy when the accident occurred. Students leaving the tournament on a bus witnessed the accident, the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate reported Feb. 6.

Hannah Joy, a senior who also played softball and volleyball, is being honored with the Hannah McDaniel Scholarship, and is remembered as a friend, classmate, a teammate and a source of inspiration to those around her. Brandi, who taught at Accommodated Learning Academy in Grapevine, is being remembered as a beautiful wife, mother, daughter and friend.

A GoFundMe account had raised nearly $33,000 of a $50,000 goal for the McDaniels, as of Feb. 12. McDaniel requested that donations to the Hannah McDaniel scholarship fund be mailed to Pantego Christian Academy with a notation of the scholarship fund on the memo line.

A memorial service is set for Feb. 17 at noon in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s MacGorman Chapel.

“I know from the Scripture my daughter and wife, they’re no longer here. They are with the Lord, and one day we will be reunited,” McDaniel said in the WFAA interview. “And I think the knowledge of that today – I don’t know what tomorrow may bring about challenges of faith – but today I know they’re in heaven with the Lord and that I can be there.”