NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A rousing service of prayer packed to the point of standing room only gathered in Baychester to celebrate the lives of the six people killed in Saturday’s church van crash on the New York State Thruway.
Helena Murray lost her sister, Avril, and her grief was uncontrollable.
“Just a tragedy, and I didn’t get to say goodbye. I just didn’t get to say goodbye, that’s the hardest,” Murray told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.
Another man — Robert Reid — was in overwhelming pain, dropping to the floor in the middle of the service as he mourned his mother — crash victim Elaine Reid.
“You know, I try to be strong, but every now and then when I see my family break, I break,” Reid said.
All of those killed in the crash were members of the Joy Fellowship Christian Assembly church, on Gun Hill Road.
A blown out tire, after a warning before the trip even got underway was to blame. Among the dead were church leaders, Bishop Simon White, his wife Zelda, and associate pastor Titus McGhie.
The front of the small church of Jamaican immigrants is now a memorial to the victims.
The eight survivors were also in people’s thoughts — including a dignitary from the Jamaican consulate.
“We ask that God will heal them,” Geneive Brown Metzger from the Consulate General of Jamaica said.
The area’s police precinct also offered their condolences and assistance.
“And the police department is here for you, and whatever we can do for the families, we will be out there for you,” Capt. Alan Mendelson said.
The church service ended in a vigil outside the church.
A collection was also taken up at Monday’s service with the donations going to the victims’ families for funeral arrangements.