Christian character was common among victims of bus crash

ELDORADO, Texas (BP)--All eight Texas senior adults killed in a recent church bus crash in Louisiana have been laid to rest, and each one was remembered for displaying strong Christian character in the community.

Funerals for Kennith and Betty Richardson, Mary Ruth Robinson and Domingo and Delia Pina were held at First Baptist Church in Eldorado, Texas, Oct. 17. Services for LaVerne Shannon were at St. Luke Methodist Church in San Angelo and for Jimmy Teel were at First United Methodist Church in Water Valley the same day. Jean Demere was buried Oct. 16 after a service at First Presbyterian Church in San Angelo.

The Richardsons, both 81, were married 58 years. He served in the Marines during World War II, and she worked as a riveter while they corresponded throughout the war and then married when he returned home. She sang in the church choir, and he sat on the front row during each service.

"That's about as far away as they ever got," Andy Anderson, pastor of First Baptist, said at the funeral, according to the Associated Press. That's why it was fitting that they died together, the pastor said.

Robinson, a former schoolteacher in Eldorado, was remembered as the "grandmother" of the church because she worked in the nursery and cared for the children of the community by making them clothes and cookies. Her husband, James Robinson, was also on the bus and suffered minor injuries.

The Pinas were married for 44 years and had volunteered for medical missions in Mexican towns along the Rio Grande, the AP reported. He was a volunteer firefighter, helped the church as a handyman and mechanic and worked with the Boy and Girl Scouts. She was a retired nurse who sang in the church choir and served on the local hospital board, according to the AP.

Shannon was a retired schoolteacher and librarian who volunteered for various organizations and gave much time to her six grandchildren.

Teel was known for her volunteer work and enjoyed playing bridge, reading the Bible, gardening and being a mother and grandmother, the AP reported.

Demere was known for her hospitality, and those who remember her noted that she would often drive to wherever ranch hands were working and provide dinner for them.

The eight were killed the morning of Oct. 13 when their bus rammed into a parked tractor-trailer on Interstate 20 in eastern Louisiana. Seven people, including the driver who fell asleep at the wheel, were injured. The group had just begun a 16-day trip to historic sites across the Southeast.

Federal investigators have begun a probe into the wreck, looking at both the drowsy driver and the safety exemptions that are allowed for church buses, the AP reported.

The driver, Kenneth Thomas, was cited for careless driving, but the mayor of Eldorado announced that the town will support him.

Texas state police Trooper Julie Lewis told the AP that the strip of road where the crash occurred is a long, flat, boring stretch of highway.

"That is a strange area of the roadway," she said. "When we do have a fatality in the area, it's usually a vehicle that's gone off the roadway and struck a vehicle on the shoulder broken down."

In a sermon Oct. 19 at First Baptist in Eldorado, Anderson spoke on "Trusting God with the Mystery of Suffering."

Quoting from the New Testament Book of Romans' chapter 8, Anderson said the verses "don't say that everything that happens is good: it isn't," the San Angelo Standard Times reported. "They don't say that God causes everything that happens: He doesn't. They don't say that everything will turn out OK for everyone: it won't."

Rather, the verses point to a God who is "at work in the world, and especially in the lives of His children," the newspaper quoted Anderson as continuing.

"God can and does use all things, the good and the bad, that which He causes and that which He only permits. ... Behind what's happening in our lives, the things that we can't understand, the pattern that we can't discern, there is a God that loves us," the pastor said. "Believing that helps us through these times."


Download Story