SOUTH FULTON, Ga. - Family members of the Alabama church student missionary group headed to Atlanta’s airport when their bus became entangled in a deadly crash are coming together in prayer.
Members of the Mount Zion Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama were on their first leg of a long mission journey to Botswana when their bus tangled with two other vehicles on a busy stretch of Camp Creek Parkway Thursday afternoon. The bus overturned and prompted a massive response from emergency officials from several jurisdictions.
Lance and Glenda Roberson, who were in Newnan, heard about the crash, and immediately rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital to see if their 17-year-old niece was one of the nine patients accepted there.
“All I know is she's got a head injury maybe a broken bone or two I'm not really sure if she's critical or what,” said Glenda Roberson.
“We know their intentions were good, their intentions were to go out fly to Africa and do God’s will but we just have to wait and see what happens,” said Lance Roberson.
“Just that our hearts go out to them and we'll be praying for them as well and I know how panicked they must be feeling because I know I’m panicked. And just hope everybody recovers,” said Glenda Roberson outside the level one trauma center.
A spokesperson for the hospital confirmed early Thursday evening they had four patients from the wreck listed in critical condition, three in fair condition, and two were in stable condition.
Officials with Wellstar said they accepted three patients at Kennestone Hospital, six patients at Atlanta Medical Center, and 15 at Atlanta Medical Center South. Patients suffered mostly cuts, bruises, and sprains, according to officials.
Officials with Southern Regional Medical Center said they accepted six patients from the wreck. All were expected to be released by Thursday evening.
Most of the patients, who range in age from late teens to early 20s, were reunited with their families as of late Thursday evening.
“Tragedy brings people together, especially the community, especially when it’s children involved too as well. You know, I just... all we can do is hope and pray for the best. And I think everything's going to work out for the ride,” said Lance Roberson.
Meanwhile, AMR Ambulance Services, who transported all the patients from the wreck, kept their doors open late so family members could find which of the four hospitals their loved ones were admitted.
“We ask everybody pray for the families involved,” said Glenda Roberson.
“We'll get through this together,” added Lance Roberson.
Officials said 38 people were aboard the bus and the crash involved at least two other drivers. Authorities have not released full details about the victims or what prompted the crash.
At the church in Huntsville, family members and parishioners gathered Thursday afternoon upon hearing the news.
“Overwhelmed and shocked. Pray everyone is okay and we really don't know much right now. Prayers are coveted,” said Jane Pierceson.
Church officials said they made arraignments for family members and ministers to fly to Atlanta to be with the five church members who were seriously injured.
“To assist them any way we can, taking care of everybody, ministering to them and get them back home,” said Frank Rucker, church administrator.
The Robersons have a message for those families.
“Stay the course. That's what I've always been taught. Stay the course, no matter what the situation or what you're doing. And just pray that's all we can do because it's in His hands at this point now. We just have to accept it and try to heal and get over it,” said Lance Roberson.
The families were later directed to the Kingdom of God church on Welcome All Road.