6-year-old boy rushed to TGH following crash that killed 5
They were three of their dad's greatest gifts. But last night, in a split-second, Pastor Ricardo Welch's daughters were taken away from him -- in an instant.
"It is unimaginable. I can't even express into words how my heart hurts. Anybody that knows me knows I love my babies. I love my girls," said Pastor Welch of St. Petersburg's Prayer Tower Church of God in Christ said Monday.
Sisters India, Tehira, and LaMour Welch were heading home from their church's state conference in Fort Pierce Sunday night along with their friend, Antwayne Robinson.
"We had been praising God and paying homage to God and praising with the young people. They were excited about coming back to assimilate all those things they had learned with the community and the church," their father explained.
Around 7:00 p.m., a pick-up truck heading in the opposite direction on State Road 70 in Desoto County skidded on the slick roadway and spun out, striking the Welch sisters' car. Everyone in their car was killed.
The driver of the truck, Jennifer Zuniga of South-Central Florida died too. Her passenger, 6-year-old Court Thivierge is the lone survivor of the accident. He was rushed to Tampa General Hospital in critical condition.
Monday morning, the congregation of Prayer Tower Church COGIC packed the church parking lot as if it were Sunday, lifting the pastor's family in prayer.
Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, the girls' cousin, was among the crowd.
"They lived lives that were a great example to a lot of people in our community. That was their purpose here," Commissioner Welch told FOX 13.
All three girls were involved in the St. Petersburg community. India was a singer, writer, and hospice volunteer. Tehira was instrumental in the church's dance ministry, and was also a skilled seamstress. LaMour was a nurse and enjoyed singing and working with the church's youth ministry.
Now, their father is turning to the cornerstone of their family, faith, to get them through their darkest hours and somehow, help them find peace.
"God chose to call his children home. I don't look at it as a tragedy. I look at it as a season in which God has allowed his hand to work and he called my babies home," Pastor Welch added Monday.
The Welch family is planning a celebration of life concert for later this week that will be open to the public. The sisters' wake is set for Friday evening. The funeral is Saturday morning at Prayer Tower COGIC.