By Frank Lewis
Pastor Mike Percell of the New Boston First Church of the Nazarene in the 3900 block of Rhodes Avenue was standing in his sanctuary observing all the structural damage caused by a truck which came crashing through the west wall of his church into the sanctuary in the early morning hours Friday.
“I was notified about this about four o’clock this morning,” Percell said. “We’re waiting on the state to come with structural engineers and insurance companies adjusters to decide what to do. Right now the (New Boston) Fire Department has condemned the sanctuary so we’re moving next door to the (New Boston) Community Building for our services starting Sunday. The rest of the building is intact - no problems.”
New Boston Police Captain Steve Goins said the call concerning the crash came in at 3:18 a.m. Friday.
“The truck ran through the brick wall into the sanctuary,” Goins said. “The driver of the vehicle was Samuel Gibson, 21, of Portsmouth. He was charged with OVI (Operating a Vehicle under the Influence of alcohol and/or drugs), drunk driving - he tested .13. He was also cited for failure to control.”
Goins said Gibson was operating a 2000 Ford Truck, and, according to those at the church right after the crash, it became airborne and crashed through the wall upside down landing on its top.
“The passenger in the vehicle with him was Zach Cunningham, age 19 from Wheelersburg,” Goins said. “He was issued a citation for underage consumption. He had been drinking alcohol.”
Goins said neither was injured in the crash but received treatment at a local hospital.
“Gibson was released this (Friday) morning on bond,” Goins said. “He was cited to the Mayor’s Court for next Wednesday (Aug. 20) at 8:30 in the morning. This is his first time DUI.”
Goins said his department immediately blocked the area off around the church. Yellow tape was wrapped around the west side of the church and workers from Freeland Construction were busy clearing bricks from the scene.
Inside the church, officers of the church were discussing future plans. Percell said it might be as long as six months or a year before they can rebuild the sanctuary.
The most poignant part of the disastrous scene was a bible laying on a pew covered in debris from the crash.
“The inside is a lot worse than the outside because there is a lot of structural damage to the walls and the roof,” Percell said.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 1928, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.