Fatal Highway Accident Leaves Church in Mourning

Mar 18, 2003 11:28 AM EST

A HAY, Kan.— A highway accident in Kansas leaves two members of a local church dead, March 15. The two congregants of the First Baptist Church in Gentry were among several members en route to Colorado for a youth ski trip.

According to Kansas Highway Patrol, the accident took place at 6:24am local time, when a church van with 10 people went off road. The van, a bus, and two cars were traveling to Winter Park Colorado for a spring break ski trip.

Ann Cripps, 35, was killed on impact; Bridgette Millsap, 18, who was traveling in one of the other vehicles, was fatally hit by a car while she crossed the interstate to help the injured. Eight others were injured, including Johnetta Bilby, church secretary of the Arkansas congregation, James Harrington, 22, Bonnie Fox, 18, Katie Baker, 13, Casey Wright, 12, and Ryan Walker, 12 Kyla Sexton and Jade Shawver, both 13, and Gentry volunteer firefighter Vester Cripps, 39.

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 next morning, the Gentry Church held a special prayer service along with counseling sessions for the members and families affected by the accident. The church also scheduled a debriefing Tuesday evening, March 18, for those returning from the accident, their families and any others grieved by the accident. 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.

By Pauline J.