Grief, remembrance marks one-year anniversary of church van crash in Dinwiddie

Local News

BLACKSTONE, Va. (WRIC) — It’s been one year since a truck pulling a loaded trailer rear-ended a Dinwiddie church bus, killing four people.

The day was a painful reminder for the Shiloh Baptist Church community, who continue to grieve the tragedy. 8News spoke with the family of one of the victims killed in the crash, who say they’re still haunted by the tragic events.

“Emotionally, its been like a roller coaster. Ups and downs,” said Celeste Wynn. Her 85-year-old mother Constance Wynn was one of four victims killed as a result of the crash. Celeste Wynn, the youngest daughter of Constance Wynn, told 8News she misses her mother dearly.

Constance Wynn

“I wish we had more time, I really miss her,” Wynn said, fighting back tears. “I can’t call her and talk to her like I could before and she just doesn’t realize or I don’t think I got to tell her that’s how much she meant to me.”

On May 28, 2019, a truck carrying a trailer rear-ended the Shiloh Baptist Church van as they were turning into Mt. Zion Church in Dinwiddie for a revival service. Eleven people were on board. Seven church members were sent to local hospitals with serious injuries but survived. Four Blackstone residents: 36-year-old Wartena Somerville, 72-year-old Delois Williams, 87-year-old James Farley and 85-year-old Constance Wynn were tragically killed.

A collage photo of the four victims killed in a May 2019 Dinwiddie bus crash.

What we know about the victims in the church van crash in Dinwiddie

A year later, to honor the lives lost in the crash, the Blackstone Community held a car memorial service to practice safe social distancing and also joined in prayer.

Blackstone Mayor Bill Coleburn says there’s no words to justify the loss.

“They were going to spread the word at another church,” Coleburn said. “It’s a day Blackstone will never forget.”

Their names are now engraved in a memorial bench outside the church.

Celeste and her sister Lloyette Wynn want people to remember their mother as a strong lady and pillar of the community.

“She’s just a giving soul,” Celeste Wynn added.

The community has taken comfort in each other as they continue to struggle with the loss.

“Had we had this pandemic last year, it would’ve really hurt the healing process because one of the most comforting things last year was being able to hug people, to embrace them, to talk to them, cry on their shoulder, and it makes the anniversary a little more hollow,” Coleburn said.

The driver of the truck, Robert Lee Allen, of Norfolk, was charged with reckless driving.

Families affected by the tragedy say they still feel like they have no closure because the upcoming court date continues to be pushed back due to the pandemic.

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