Seven Families Mourn Seven Deaths

By Eileen Jones - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It was described as a "horrific" accident. A fiery crash between a Department of Corrections van and a big rig. Seven people were killed. Thursday, a memorial service brought together the victims families to mourn those lost.

It's never easy saying good-bye to a loved one especially one who has died so soon and so suddenly. Pastor of the First Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Gary Lewis, in Union Springs conveyed those thoughts to the mourners. "No one understands why such things happen, but we trust and lean and depend on God. Trusting that He makes no mistakes."

It happened last Friday morning when a tractor trailer crossed the median and smashed into a Department of Corrections van causing it to burst into flames - killing all seven on board. Correctional Officer Elizabeth Laseter knew the officer who was killed very well."It's just a shock. I feel like I'm dreaming and somebody needs to wake me up."

Corrections officer Rodney Kelley was driving six applicants from Bullock to Draper prison for job testing when the crash happened.

Laseter remembers the conversation she had with Kelley the day before. "I couldn't believe it. I just had talked to him. You had just talked to him? The day before. He was letting me know that he wasn't going to be there in the morning because he had to take the recruits out and I told him OK. I know that. I would have never guessed in a million years - not in a million years."

And, the six recruits were remembered too by Kilby Correctional Facility's Chaplain Melvin Jackson. "We're praying for these families: Rodney Kelley's family, Brandon Anglin, Julius Bouier, John Foye, Derrick Ivery, Lionel Moore, Henry Simmons. You're in our thoughts and prayers."

And, the sister of one of the victims finds it hard accepting the news. "I'm angry. I'm grieving. I'm, you know, sad."

State troopers are still investigating to determine the cause of the accident.

The seven victims were from Abbeville, Clayton, Eufaula, Tuskegee and Union Springs. The driver of the truck was from Georgia and suffered minor injuries.