Car crashes into ETX church, sets building on fire
MALAKOFF, TX (KLTV) - Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church is destroyed after a car plowed through the church's front wall on Thursday and set the building on fire.
Officials say a small SUV drove into the church at around 2 o'clock in the afternoon.
No one inside the church was injured and officials aren't sure why the driver crashed. They say he was airlifted to a Tyler hospital.
"We just had mass here this morning, we were all here, everything was fine, and then all of a sudden come back to this, it's unbelievable," says Pat Rummel, a member of the church.
The church secretary was sitting in her office when the car came through the wall, just inches away from her. She was the only person in the church at the time. She didn't want to go on camera but said God was watching out for her.
Firefighters say the roof of the church almost caved in. Cracks are visible in the bricks on the front of the building.
Firefighters say smoke and water damaged anything the fire didn't get. Still, they were able to pull some valuables from the flames.
"We did get the tabernacle, that's been saved," says Rummel, "These are just things, but they meant a lot to us. This was our church and every picture, every statue, meant something to us."
The drivers shoes were lying in the rubble next to other damaged items.
"It was just a real unfortunate accident that you hate to ever see happen to anybody but thankfully nobody lost their lives," says Bubba Matthews, second assistant fire chief at the Malakoff Volunteer Fire Department.
News that has Rummel feeling optimistic, "We'll make it. We're going to get through and we'll have a bigger and better church."
Church members say they were already planning on renovating the building. Now, the renovation will just happen a little sooner than planned.
Officials are still investigating the crash. Witnesses say the man driving the car may have had a seizure.
Mary Queen of Heaven church members say other churches are opening their doors to the congregation.
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