Truck damages church

Published 10:12 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A tractor-trailer apparently left in gear hit the side of Bethlehem Christian Church early Tuesday morning, causing this damage. The driver then got in the truck and left before police arrived on scene.

A tractor-trailer apparently left in gear hit the side of Bethlehem Christian Church early Tuesday morning, causing this damage. The driver then got in the truck and left before police arrived on scene.

Ryan Hargrave was working the late shift at the Holland Road Wilco early Tuesday morning when he heard a loud boom, and one of his customers suddenly ran out of the store.

Looking out the window, he saw the cause of the commotion. The man’s tractor-trailer, apparently left in gear, had rolled out of the Wilco parking lot, crossed Manning Road, jumped a shallow ditch — right beside a “No trucks in parking lot” sign — and struck the side of Bethlehem Christian Church.

As Hargrave left the store to help, he watched the man jump into his truck, back up and drive off. He was unable to catch the license plate number, Hargrave said, but he called police.

Newsletter

Email newsletter signup

“I was like, dang, you’re going to hit the church like that and then leave?” Hargrave said later Tuesday. “I’m a man of God. That’s not right.”

The wreck, which happened just after 3:30 a.m., left a dent in the side of the church building. But the Rev. Matt Winters, pastor of Bethlehem Christian Church, said the church itself is fine.

“The church really is the people here,” he said. “It’s not the building itself. We’re not angry and bent out of shape.”

Even though the building will have to be fixed, and the room on the other side is probably out of commission until repairs can be made, Winters said he is grateful nobody was hurt in the incident.

“I think that’s the blessing in all of this,” he said.

City spokeswoman Diana Klink said there are no suspects so far in the wreck.

Anyone who has information is asked to call Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP. Callers to Crime Line never have to give their names or appear in court, and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.