Lonnie Gruver, 77, of Dayton, was a retired pastor and a member of the congregation at the Grace Community Baptist Church. Reverend Gruver was west bound on FM 1960 west of Dayton and just three miles east of the Harris/Liberty County line when he slowed and was turning left into the church parking lot just ten minutes before the 7 p.m. service he was attending.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the rain had just stopped and the roads were wet. Troopers do not believe Gruver used a turn signal as he began his turn in his Chrysler Sebring. Approximately halfway into the turn Alceuse Jackson, 76, of Beaumont, Texas who was in his Lexus on his way to Bush International Airport to retrieve his boss, attempted to legally pass Gruver on the left but slammed into the driver’s door as the vehicle tried to turn.
The force of the collision drove both vehicles through the ditch and scraped a light pole before coming to rest in the church parking lot.
Wayne Hardin, the current pastor at Grace Community Baptist Church, said several kids came running into the church and told him there was a bad accident out front. Hesitating, he walked out to find his friend and church member involved it the crash.
As Liberty County EMS and Dayton Fire Department arrived on the scene , Hardin, canceled services and gathered everyone for a prayer meeting. During the prayer meeting, the grim news arrived. Lonnie Gruver had passed away from his injuries and was pronounced dead on the scene.
Mr. Jackson was transported to Northeast Hospital where he is listed in stable condition with broken ribs.
The crash blocked the parking lot, and members of the church watched as DPS investigated the crash. Cleveland Police Department was requested by DPS to assist with their computer assisted Total Station which enables them to plot the scene and redraw it on a computer in a very short time.
It was very sad for the many local firefighters, police officers and other on the scene as most had known Mr. Gruver as a longtime member of the Dayton Community.
No charges are expected in the crash.
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