Crash victim feels ‘they were blessed’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Katie L. Mitchell, 12, doesn’t remember the blood.

She doesn’t remember experiencing any pain.

But the Forest Glen Middle School sixth-grader – one of 15 members of Laurel Hill Church of Christ injured in a church van accident late Saturday – does remember the yelling and crying that surrounded her after the wreck.


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&uot;There seemed to be a lot going on,&uot; Mitchell said Monday, as she recuperated at her grandmother’s house on South Quay Road. &uot;But it didn’t hurt; I couldn’t feel anything.

&uot;I guess I was in shock.&uot;

The 20-seat church van overturned after being rear ended by a pickup truck around 10 p.m. Saturday as it slowed to turn into a driveway in the 7600 block of South Quay Road, said Lt. Debbie George, spokeswoman for the Suffolk Police Department. The van was filled with kids between the ages of 7 and 14 and a handful of adult chaperones, on their way back to church after attending a musical performance at King’s Fork High School earlier that evening

Charges are pending against the driver of pickup, William A. Conken, 44, of the 6700 block of Old South Quay Road, George said. He was among the injured taken to the hospital.

Police believe alcohol contributed to the accident, George added.

All of the 15 passengers were injured and taken to either Obici Hospital or Southampton Memorial Hospital in Franklin. Several, including Mitchell, were airlifted to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

All in all, most members of his congregation injured in the accident are doing fairly well, said the Rev. Carl Sweat, pastor at Laurel Hill. A couple are still hospitalized but are gradually showing signs of improvement.

&uot;Some are doing a little better than others,&uot; Sweat said. &uot;I’d say 80 to 90 percent of them are home recovering from the accident. Our prayers are with them and their families.&uot;

Despite the injuries, everyone involved in the accident was lucky, said Katie Knight, Mitchell’s grandmother and a longtime member of Laurel Hill.

Knight heard the crash, which happened on the stretch of South Quay Road that runs in front of her house.

After the accident, she went outside and began shepherding the young victims inside her home until the ambulances could arrive.

&uot;There was a lot of yelling and crying,&uot; she recalled. &uot;People didn’t realize what had happened until after they go out of the van.&uot;

&uot;They were all blessed,&uot; said Knight. &uot;This accident could have been so much worse.&uot;