Church community in shock after crash kills three - FOX 13 News

Church community in shock after crash kills three

Posted: Updated:
BRADENTON (FOX 13) -

His mind weighs heavily.

"I've been thinking all night and all day yesterday about that, and gave my wife a special hug because I still have her," said Pastor Gerrit Koedoot.

Pastor Koedoot had just finished a church service Sunday at Sugar Creek Country Club.

Afterward, as he visited with church members outside, troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol said a car driven by Doreen Landstra accelerated in reverse towards a group of pedestrians.

Troopers said she hit seven people before coming to a stop in a small creek.

"The car went past us a foot or two in front of us and then just accelerated and mowed all these people down," the Pastor said.

Three church visitors including Margaret Vanderlaan, Wilhemina Paul and Johanna Dijkhoff were killed.

Nelly Depooter, Nellie Vlasma, Fred Eringa and Michael Claus were injured.

Pastor Koedoot called Wilhemina Paul "Willie."

"She was very active in many ways and had a lot of good friends. She was an outgoing person," he said.

He remembers Margaret Vanderlaan as a joyous person.

"She had much love for children and did a lot of work for children in Canada, was a tremendous outgoing person, had a lot of friends," he said.

The third victim Johanna Dijkhoff had just arrived from the Netherlands, to visit her sister.

"How can you say anything to them other than the Lord will be with you and the Lord will be with you in our prayers. That is the only thing we can add. Put our arms around them, pray, cry together, that is basically what I did," he said.

The hours following the accident have been full of emotion, pain and grief. It is especially hard for two husbands who lost their wives.

"They're saying stuff like, I don't know what to do, I'm confused, I don't know how I'm going to live without her," said Pastor Koedoot.

Troopers say four others were injured when Doreen Landstra accidentally drove over them.

She has been a church member for more than 13 years.

Last year, she retired as choir director.

"She must be burdened more than anybody else. I wouldn't trade that burden more than anything," he said.

The Pastor said he will be there for her, just as he has been for the victims, when she is ready.

"I think it's too early, but I will go visit her," he said.

No charges have been filed. The Florida Highway Patrol said they are still investigating the crash.

Powered by WorldNow

FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
3213 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, Florida 33609
Main: (813) 876-1313
Newsroom: (813) 870-9630
Fax: (813) 871-3135

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices