TERRYTOWN, La. — A local pastor who died in a deadly crash on the West Bank is being remembered. He was one of three good Samaritans who pulled over to help a car in trouble Sunday night. All three lost their lives.
Pastor Claude Williams, 49, was the pastor at the Westbank campus of Celebration Church. The church held a prayer vigil Monday night and the room was packed.
"He planted a lot of seeds on his journey here as a believer in Jesus Christ," one of the church members said.
Pastor Williams was a husband and father of three children. He loved God and loved people. It was no surprise to anyone that he stopped to help someone in need.
"That was a testament of who he was," said Yolanda Harrell, a close friend.
It was one day before, on Father's Day night, when Williams was driving over the Westbank Expressway. According to police, another car malfunctioned and spun around. Williams and the passenger in his car, 49-year-old Jeff Leinart stopped to help. Soon after another driver, 66-year-old Ivan Chopin stopped to help too.
Police believe a suspected impaired driver, 40-year-old Todd Williams, crashed into the three men, pushing them over the expressway, killing them.
"I know he's dancing and rejoicing right now," Harrell said through tears.
Ty and Yolanda Harrell were Pastor Williams' close friends. They spent his last night on earth having dinner with him.
"He was just a man of God that taught and wanted people to come and follow Christ," they said.
The Harrells said Pastor Williams was excited about the message he preached Sunday morning, just hours before the accident. It was one of the largest attendances at Celebration Church, Westbank.
"He taught on obeying God and more importantly trusting God," Ty Harrell said.
Now his church family is remembering him along with the other two men who lost their lives helping someone else.
The women in the first vehicle whose car malfunctioned were OK. The suspect was arrested for multiple charges including vehicular homicide.