Big Rig Leaves Church In Shambles

Chatham, Virginia – A 65-year-old truck driver has been charged with reckless driving after crashing into a church along Route 29 Tuesday night.

Virginia State Police said Herman L. Wicker, Jr. of Altoona, PA, was going north on Route 29 when he lost control of his big rig crossing the left side of the road and through the median into the southbound lanes around 10:40 p.m. The tractor-trailer then continued through the parking lot of Open Bible Baptist Church and barreled into the church.

The semi-truck and trailer also struck three vehicles before smashing into the church. Pastor of Open Bible Baptist Church, Tim Keyser, said this is the third incident involving a semi-truck causing damage to church property in the last three years.

Keyser said a tractor-trailer collided with, and destroyed, the church sign near the roadway and another semi overturned in the parking lot. He said he would like to see a barrier along the roadway to better protect the church from accidents like these.


Virginia DOT spokeswoman, Paula Jones, told WSET, “We are looking right now at the background of what has been done there in the past… and what can we do in the future.”

Thankfully, no one was inside the church at the time of the crash and Wicker only suffered minor injuries. Pastor Keyser said things could have been much worse. “It’s obviously an inconvenience, but considering what could have been, we’re grateful,” he told WSET.

Wicker was driving for Sheetz, Inc., which is a chain of convenience stores and coffee shops headquartered in Altoona, PA. Nick Ruffner, PR Manager for Sheetz, says they are cooperating with authorities in the investigation.

In a statement Ruffner said, “We are grateful that no one was badly injured in the accident last night in Chatham, Virginia and a Sheetz family member has reached out to the church to see how we can to assist the congregation. This accident remains under investigation and Sheetz is cooperating fully with authorities.”

Authorities say the investigation into what caused Wicker to lose control of the truck is still ongoing.



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