4 members of Germantown church killed in Texas plane crash

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 4:13 PM EST
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GERMANTOWN, Tenn. (WMC) - The congregation of Harvest Church in Germantown is in deep shock.

Four church leaders died in a plane crash in Texas on Tuesday. Their lead pastor, the sole survivor, is now hospitalized.

The four men reportedly died following a crash near Yoakum, Texas. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause.

Harvest Church officials are asking for privacy as the church family grieves the loss of four men of God whose faith had an immeasurable impact on countless lives in the Mid-South.

Executive Pastor Bill Garner, Elder Steve Tucker, and members Tyler Patterson and Tyler Springer were killed in the crash.

Lead Pastor Dr. Kennon Vaughan remains in a Texas hospital and is in stable condition, church officials say.

Law enforcement in Texas said the small Piper plane crashed around 11 a.m. Tuesday morning about a mile from the Yoakum Municipal Airport.

Sgt. Ruben San Miguel, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman, said on Tuesday the aircraft was described as a Piper Mirage single-engine aircraft.

He said Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators were dispatched to the crash site, but they may not begin the investigation until Wednesday.

“For reasons that are still unknown,” said Sgt. San Miguel, “the pilot was attempting or preparing to land at Lavaca County Airport when it crashed in this open field.”

Condolences started pouring in immediately from other Mid-South churches including Cummings Street Church, Hope Church, and Labelle Haven Baptist in Olive Branch, all among the many sending prayers.

Parishioners gathered at the Harvest Church worship center to pray and mourn Tuesday night.

In a statement, the church said:

“Their loss leaves us without the proper words to articulate our grief. We ask for your prayers and request the families involved are given proper space to grieve.”

According to the church’s website, Executive Pastor Bill Garner leaves behind a wife, seven children, and six grandchildren. His family also owns the Windyke Country Club.

On Tuesday, the club’s Facebook page posted:

“It is hard to even begin to describe what Bill meant to the Windyke family. He was a father, a son, a brother and friend to many.”

Steve Tucker was an elder at Harvest Church.

Action News 5 confirmed he owned the plane and was a pilot.

Tucker also owned businesses in Texas.

Custom saddle-making company Circle Y Saddles posted:

“We are heartbroken… his wisdom, faith and innovation touched many lives in the equestrian community.”

US Congressman David Kustoff tweeted:

“These leaders touched our community… our prayers are with each of their families.”

Tennessee State Representative Mark White of Memphis posted:

“These leaders touched the hearts of so many.”

Back in Texas, DPS stood guard over the crash scene, waiting for investigators with the NTSB to arrive on Wednesday.

“We will keep the area secure until that happens,” said Sgt. San Miguel.

In the meantime, Groundworks Ministries sent the Harvest Church family a message:

“We may not know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future.”

At last check, Pastor Kennon Vaughan, married with five boys, is in stable condition at a Texas hospital.

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