Ariz. Pastor, Former Counselor to Ted Haggard, Dies in Uganda Crash

A memorial service is being held Wednesday for a Phoenix pastor who was killed in a highway accident in Uganda last week. The pastor, the Rev. Leo Godzich, was the head of the National Association of Marriage Enhancement and a counselor to Ted Haggard after his scandal.

Godzich, an associate pastor at Phoenix First Assembly of God, was part of a team of evangelists who were witnessing and promoting traditional marriage in Uganda. Four evangelists were killed in the accident, including a former police officer, also from Phoenix First Assembly.

Godzich’s Twitter account contained this tweet on Friday: “Before passing in a car accident Oct 27th in Uganda, Leo said, ‘Even heartache can be fruitful when you're close to Jesus.’ Be encouraged.”

According to the Uganda Monitor, the team was driving a Toyota Super Custom that was trying to overtake two fuel tankers on the Jinga-Iganga Highway in Uganda. Ugandan police said the Toyota tried to squeeze between two fuel tankers when the tanker ahead of the car slowed down. The driver of the Toyota reduced his speed as well, causing the trailer behind him to ram into the car. The four evangelists died on the spot, and the driver of the Toyota was rushed to the hospital with severe injuries. There was no update available as to his status Monday.

A fire brigade team from Jinja had to cut the wreckage to extract the bodies. The remains were taken to the city mortuary in Kampala, the Monitor reported. South Eastern traffic chief, Washington Labeja, who assessed the accident scene, attributed the crash to recklessness.

Godzich and Leo Piano, the U.S. evangelists, were accompanied by their Ugandan hosts John Michael Mugerwa and Ronnie Ssebunya. Earlier in the day, the team attended a crusade for married couples in Nkere zone, Katwe Makindye Division, Kampala, the Monitor reported.

“It’s tragic,” said Shannon Piano, Leo Piano’s widow, told ABC 15 in Phoenix. “It’s a tragic, devastating loss.”

Godzich is survived by his wife, Molly, and three children.

There will be a memorial service for Godzich at Phoenix First Assembly on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to NAME in Godzich’s name.

“The two of them (Godzich and Piano) had great, big hearts,” Shannon Piano told ABC15. “Both of them are great men. It’s a tragic loss.”

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