• Community remembers bus crash victims at service

    By: Catherine Bilkey


    STATESVILLE, N.C. - At the community-wide memorial service for the Front Street Baptist Church bus crash victims, there were laughs, tears and a lot of stories.

    Six church members of different ages and different backgrounds all had one thing in common. They loved serving their Statesville community. Wednesday night, people in the community wanted to serve them by telling stories about who they were and what they lost just last week in the terrible crash.

    "Whether she brought you groceries or handed you money to pay a bill, my mom was always giving of herself," Becky Johnson said.

    Johnson's mom, Barbara Morrison, was a school bus driver and later a church bus driver. It was her husband, Randy Morrison, who was driving when the church bus blew a tire and crashed into an SUV and a tractor-trailer. Randy Morrison was known for his generosity as well.

    "You might have seen a rocking horse built by my daddy given to any number of children in this church," Becky Johnson said.

    There was also a lot of humor about a group of people advanced in age, but full of life. Clyde Matheny had just gotten his driver's license extended for another five years. He was 95.

    "He was really, really excited about that," Matheny's son said. "My brother and I would always flip a coin to see who would go riding with him."

    Another son gave community members a challenge to be more like his father, John Wright, a devoted member of the church who also taught Sunday School.

    "Because if you do that, this world will be a better place," David Wright said.

    And from the stories told Wednesday night that challenge extends to all six people—serving and giving is their legacy.

    Those who died included: Randy Morrison, a Vietnam vet, and his wife Barbara, a grandmother of five; John Wright, a singer in the choir whose funeral was Tuesday, Marsha McLelland, a retired nurse, whose husband survived the wreck; and Brenda Smith, a grandmother of four, whose husband survived.

    A benefit fund has been set up for the victims.

    The money donated will go toward hospital expenses, funeral expenses, and anything else the families need.

    A victim in the hospital says she is thankful for the support.

    “Everybody here has been so wonderful to all of us. I can’t tell you how many pastors came and talked to me. It was great,” said bus crash victim, Norma Hellard.

    Cloyce Matheny will also be honored Wednesday night at the public memorial, and at a private funeral this afternoon.

    Matheny was a man who went skydiving in his 90s, and often told people, “Don’t stop living until you die.”

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    Community remembers bus crash victims at service