UPDATE: Car Crashes Into Church

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

"It brought tears to my eyes when we looked through the door," church member Jan Henderson said. "That's the pew area where we sit on Sunday mornings."

A Lansing man is in critical condition this evening after he crashed his car into a local church.

The 24-year-old drove his van straight into the chapel of Union Missionary Baptist Church at the corner of South MLK Blvd. and St. Joe around 3:30 a.m. Thursday leaving a gaping hole.

Crews worked all day to board up the the side of the building that had at least a 10-foot-wide area knocked out.

Church members are in shock, but trying to stay positive. They said they're praying for the driver and working together to get the chapel fixed.

"It looks horrendous," church Pastor Melvin Jones said.

Jones was on the scene along with several church members as soon as they heard the news.

"It brought tears to my eyes when we looked through the door," church member Jan Henderson said. "That's the pew area where we sit on Sunday mornings."

Now most of those pews are destroyed. The small chapel is where the church holds early morning and youth services, bible studies, and even weddings.

"It's very fortunate that we didn't have anyone in the building at the time," church board member Charles Green said.

Green got the call from the security company early in the morning, and he said it's not the first time there's been a major crash near the church. Green never expected to see a car actually in the chapel though.

"We are obviously going to consider putting up some barriers here now," Green said. "Cars have missed this turn and ran into the tree or the light pole over here, but we've never had anything actually hit the building before."

City engineers say it could have been much worse. After inspecting the damage, it appears the vehicle missed the major steel beams, so the structural concerns are limited to just that wall of the chapel. Law enforcement say it also could have been much worse for the driver.

"The thing is, he was quickly accessed, quickly removed, and quickly transported to the hospital," Lansing Fire Department Public Information Officer Eric Weber said.

Now everyone at the church is more focused on his condition, rather than the condition of their chapel.

"This is really just a building," Green said.

The church already called the insurance company, and expect it should cover the losses.

"That can be fixed, I just hope that this young man can be fixed," Pastor Jones said.

The man did suffer life threatening injuries. Lansing Police say it could be days until they know exactly what happened and what caused the accident. Right now they do think speed could have been a factor.

The church canceled all of its activities Thursday. They hope to re-open Friday and hold activities in a different area of the church, if they get approval from the fire department.

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