A Missouri pastor died in a traffic accident last weekend less than four months after becoming pastor of St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in New Haven, Mo. The Rev. Dan Smith was among five people, including two children, who were killed when a semi-truck containing a load of anhydrous ammonia overturned in and spilled half its contents in central Illinois.
“With heavy hearts we share the news of the death of our pastor, Dr. Dan Smith,” the church said in a Facebook post. “We extend our sympathy to Dan’s son, Micah Smith, his sister, Sande Hardy, and other family and friends. Please also keep in your prayers the family and friends of the other four lives that were lost, as well as those who were injured.”
The National Transportation Safety Board said the semi-truck was being driven on U.S. 40 when the driver veered to the right to avoid a collision. As the truck did so, another vehicle tried to pass it. The truck then jackknifed, overturned and slammed into the trailer hitch of a parked vehicle, tearing a 6-inch hole in the chemical container. More than half the 7,500-gallons of anhydrous ammonia, which was being transported, spilled out of the container and vaporized into a “toxic plume” that caused authorities to temporarily evacuate some 500 Teutopolis residents within a one-mile radius of the crash site.
Smith, who had said he grew up poor in rural Indiana, didn’t become a Christian until he was 25 and believed that becoming a Christian as an adult helped him to be more sympathetic to unchurched people.
“I believe due to this I have a view of spirituality that sometimes gives me an edge in reaching the unchurched population,” he once said. “I have a strong desire to reach the people that have not experienced the grace and love that the body of Christ has to offer. The church offers a healing and hopeful place to belong.”
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice