The motor-vehicle crash that claimed the lives of six Jamaicans in the United States last Saturday struck a personal chord with the Reverend Rennard White, president of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals.
His brother, Bishop Simon White, the pastor of Joy Fellowship Christian Assemblies in The Bronx, his sister, Elaine Reid and sister-in-law, Zelda White (Simon's wife), were among the victims of the horrific crash along the New York Thruway.
White, who is also pastor of Tower Hill Missionary Church, had just completed a funeral when the news was relayed to him by a family member.
"You hear about it, but you hoping for the best," he said of his initial reaction.
The other victims are Associate Pastor Titus McGhie, Evelyn Ferguson and Avril Murray.
The group were en route to a church banquet in upstate New York when the crash occurred.
New York State troopers say five of the six victims were killed instantly when they were thrown from the van in which they were travelling.
According to the official report, the 14-seater van blew out a rear driver-side tyre and flipped over several times before "coming to an uncontrolled rest in the grassy median in the middle of the road".
The New York Daily News reported that another church member, Glenn Hyslop, who was supposed to be driving the van, backed out at the last minute because he had another commitment.
The report said Hyslop, who was at the church to see the group off, expressed concern that the van's spare tyre did not have adequate air pressure.
He reportedly told the group to stop and put air in the tyre.
Repeated attempts to get an update on the condition of the remaining eight passengers, who were airlifted to nearby hospitals, were unsuccessful.
Last night, members of the church, located on East Gunhill Road, scheduled a prayer vigil to mourn their parishioners.