Nov 23, 2009 11:35 AM by Sarah Rosario

Pastor and Wife Killed on Their Way To Church

A St. Landry congregation will never be the same after a train accident that happened just outside of church.

Crying, Catherin Kinnerson said, "They came into our life to pull us together and God knows they left here today still to keep us together." 59 year olds Fanley and Florence Thomas were on their way to church and were less than 50 feet away when they were suddenly hit by a train.

Officials say the Thomas's were driving south on US 71 and turned left onto the St. James Baptist church crossing when they were hit by the north bound train.

It happened just after Sunday school and right before the 10am service. Church Member Shirley Wright said, "I heard the train start jerking, like it was hitting breaks, and I said oh, it hit something. I got in my car and came on down the road and that's when I seen smoke and fire."

She's not the only one, other members saw it too. They say when the train hit the car it pushed it more than 150 feet. When it finally stopped and exploded, making it impossible for anyone to help. The car sat burning in front of the church graveyard.

The Thomas's were in their navy blue Chrysler 300. Brother in law Raymon Whitehurst said, "The car crossed the track but the train hit the car in the back." Church member Tomika Simmons said, "We never thought something like this would happen so close to home." Other members described the Mamou couple as the most giving, kind hearted, and beautiful people in the world.

The question many say they're left with is why. There are no crossing signals but there is a crossing guard with no blind spots. "It's wide open and you can see so, I really don't know why he didn't see that train," said Whitehurst.

The Thomas's are survived by their three kids; two who live in Lake Charles and one who lives in Texas. Funeral arraignments are being made at Frank Brothers Funeral home in Eunice.

Sarah Rosario



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