RGV Pastor Upgrading Road Trip Safety Measures
MCALLEN – The news of a head-on collision that left 13 congregation members dead prompted one Rio Grande Valley pastor to speak out.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash in Uvalde County.
Federal authorities believe a pickup truck driver heading in the opposite direction may have crossed over the center lane and hit the bus. The driver is listed in stable condition.
The bus, carrying a total of 14 passengers, was heading back from a church retreat. Only one person aboard the bus survived.
First Baptist of McAllen pastor Shannon Talley said he first heard the news of the deadly crash Thursday morning. He said he now intends to make changes and keep his congregation safe on the roadways.
“As a pastor who ultimately feels responsible for any trip that your people take, whether senior adults or children, I can only imagine what that church is feeling today,” he said.
Talley said his church also goes on several senior and youth trips out of state. He said their main use of transportation is buses.
“What we have done over the last few years is to downsize from a 15-passenger van to a 12-passenger van because our insurance company recommended that… (It’s) considered to be safer and not as much of a roll-over factor,” he said.
Talley said he also plans to prepare his bus drivers before hitting the roadways.
“Things we have learned from other churches are that they require all of their van members and van drivers to go through some additional safety courses in handling a passenger van, scenarios on the road or a long trip. So, we are looking into that,” he said.
The pastor said it’s difficult to prepare for any accident.
“The main thing we try to do is – I’m sure First Baptist New Braunfels did – is pray that God protect our people as they travel, because as you can see in a head-on collision it’s not going to matter a whole lot what you’re driving. It could be fatal,” he said.
Talley said he’ll continue to pray for the victims and their families.
“We pray for them and pray for their families of loss loved ones and we’re here for them. If there’s anything First Baptist McAllen can do to help them, we’re here for them,” he said.
The cause of the crash is to be determined by the NTSB.
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