One year later: Remembering the victims killed in Dinwiddie church van crash

Updated: May. 28, 2020 at 4:42 PM EDT
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DINWIDDIE, Va. (WWBT) - It’s been one year since a truck carrying a trailer plowed into the back of a Blackstone church van, killing four people and sending several others to the hospital.

The group was turning into another church in Dinwiddie for an evening service when it happened.

“A truck hit a van carrying about 14 people,” one woman screamed in a 911 dispatch call.

It was one year ago when a truck carrying a trailer slammed into the back of a church van.

Inside the van were members of the Shiloh Baptist Church turning into Mt. Zion Church in Dinwiddie for a revival service.

“I knew that truck was going too damn fast!” the woman in the 911 call said.

“All I said was 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” Michael Somerville remembered.

Somerville’s wife, Wartena Somerville, was one of the many people in the van.

“We walked her outside and she hugged and kissed me and she said she loved us. She went off waving,” Somerville said.

Michael said he was supposed to be in the van but his wife told him to stay home with their 9-month-old baby.

“My wife texted me and said ‘we are packed to the gills,’” Somerville said.

The couple texted the entire ride.

“The last text was at 6:50 and she said ‘we’re at the church,’ and that’s when it happened,” Somerville said.

That was the last message he got before getting the tragic call.

“I just went down to the scene and just watched in disbelief,” Somerville said.

Crewe Elementary School teacher Wartena Somerville, 87-year-old James Farley, 85-year-old Constance Wynn and 72-year-old Delois Williams were all killed that night. Three others were airlifted to the hospital.

In the last year, Somerville says the accident has brought the Blackstone community together.

A memorial bench was placed outside the church honoring all four victims.

The biggest memory is the couple’s daughter, Stephanie, who carries out her mother’s memory. The little one is even starting to sing just like her mother.

“The next second is not guaranteed,” Somerville said.

The driver of the truck, Robert Allen, was charged with reckless driving on June 10.

“I want to let him know I love him and I forgive him. One day, I would like to meet him,” Somerville said.

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