Fatal church van crash rocks community

Fatal church van crash rocks community

A photo posted on the Gospel of the Kingdom Worship Center’s Facebook page shows the three people who were killed when a church van wrecked on Interstate 10 on Saturday morning. Maliya Chrishon, 8, Micah Goldsmith, 11 (in cheerleader uniform), and Patricia Baker, 58, died at the scene.

Published: Monday, November 18, 2013 at 11:13 AM.

DeFUNIAK SPRINGS— The Gospel of the Kingdom Church was uncharacteristically quiet at service time Sunday morning.

The small building, only about 2,500 square feet, was empty. The parking lot was a ghost town. The only sounds were the trucks whizzing along the highway in this rural area several miles north of the city.

Tragedy struck the small congregation on Saturday morning when one of the church’s vans wrecked on the Interstate 10 near Chipley.

Two young girls, Maliya Chrishon, 8, and Micah Goldsmith, 11, and one woman, Patricia Baker, 58, were killed. Several more were injured.

The accident sent shockwaves through a tight-knit community where families have been living for generations.

“These are people who are extremely embedded in our community,” said Carlene Anderson, school superintendent of Walton County. The two girls attended nearby elementary schools. “This is a very small community and a very tight community. The people involved, I taught their parents, I hired people in their families, I know these names. This will have a huge impact on everyone.”

Services were called off on Sunday as most of the congregation visited the injured passengers in the hospital or offered support for those who lost loved ones.

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