Weatherford Democrat

November 2, 2012

Man dies after wreck into church

Christin Coyne

PARKER COUNTY — A Weatherford man was pronounced dead Thursday morning shortly after the pickup he was driving plowed into a church on Tin Top Road, stopping within feet of a woman at work inside the building.

After traveling several hundred feet off the roadway, through two fences, and into the front of Christ the King Covenant Church, Melton Lee McCowen, 69, was pulled from his vehicle by firefighters and pronounced deceased at the hospital a short time later, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Texas Highway Patrol Trooper Ricky Hunter said they are looking into whether McCowen had a possible medical issue as he was driving southbound on Tin Top Road.

The collision blew glass through building and out the back door, according to Bishop Donald Connell, and the truck stopped within a few feet of where the church secretary was sitting in her office.

Jacquetta Wildermuth, who has worked a bishop’s secretary for 25 years, said she wasn’t even supposed to be at work Thursday morning but came in anyway.

She was sitting in her office when she heard a loud noise.

“It sounded like a bomb,” Wildermuth said.

Inside the church and feet away outside the office window sat the front end of a red Ford F150 pickup.

She wasn’t sure at first what was going on. Boards and other remnants of walls, doors and windows, along with a battered church safe now laying in the hallway, blocked the front entrance to the offices.  

The horn was going off so she couldn’t hear anything and when she tried to call 911, they couldn’t hear her, Wildermuth said.

James Huddleston, a volunteer with Central Community VFD, was at work next door when he heard a crash outside and came out front to find the rock embankment in front of the business had been smashed.

His first thought was “not again” as the business has recently replaced the landscaping feature after another driver struck it, Huddleston said.

But after hearing the truck then crash through two fences on the south side of the business and then hit the church, he realized something was wrong. Using the radio in his truck, he called for help from the Weatherford Fire Department.

When he arrived at the church, the driver was not breathing and had no pulse, according to Huddleston.

Emergency responders worked on McCowen at the scene but he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the emergency room at Weatherford Regional Medical Center.

Officials are hoping the autopsy provides more answers about what led up to the crash.

Working under a roof stabilized with a metal brace by Weatherford firefighters, Longhorn Towing Service pulled the truck from the hole in the building about an hour after the wreck.

“That’s called an angel must have been standing there,” Connell said, as he and others looked at the damage and the proximity to Wildermuth’s office.