Plane crash victims remembered

Plane crash victims remembered

LONGVIEW/ GREGG COUNTY (KYTX) - A sudden tragedy that took members of the Marshall community by surprise. 33-year-old pilot, John Verhalen III along with his sister, 41-year-old Sarah Verhalen and her 13-year old daughter Chloe, all killed Sunday in a plane crash as the plane was leaving a New Mexico airport. A 4th passenger in the plane, 26 year-old Jennifer Woodward was also killed.

 "I literally couldn't stand, I had to sit down." 
    Father Denzil Vithanage is the pastor at Marshall's St. Joseph's Catholic Church. He says John and his sister Sarah grew up in his church, and their family is very active in the Marshall community.
    "They take a very silent active role in the city so there is no doubt they have touched thousands and thousands of people's lives in Marshall."
    Monday evening,  St. Joseph's Catholic Church held a memorial and prayed for strength for the Verhalen family, especially John and Sarah's father, Phillip Verhalen.
 "For him to go through this pain, losing his only son, only daughter and only granddaughter."
    "I know he's traumatized with this, but he's taking it one step at a time."
   Joanie Campbell, John and Sarah's aunt, says this comes after another tragedy.
   Phillip's wife died just 4 years ago of heart and kidney failure.
   "We're just doing the best we can and trying to be there for him because he's the one that needs us."
"So I can imagine, it's so difficult to fathom the struggle and the pain this wonderful gentleman is going through and the entire Verhalen family."
    In Monday's memorial father Vithanage did what he could to comfort the Verhalen family.
 "We are given the gift of faith and in faith we began to see God is with us, even in the most troubled and uncertain times and even in the moments of death and sorrow."
The family says funeral arrangements have not been finalized. But father Vithanage says the children's *mother Carolyn Verhalen is buried in the St. Joseph's catholic  cemetery in Marshall


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