A Texas pastor who says he blacked out during a coughing fit and caused a crash that killed his 17-year-old daughter and his 51-year-old wife of 25 years as they drove home from a high school basketball game said his “heart died” when he discovered what happened.
"People would come to me with grief and heartache," Mark McDaniel, senior pastor at New Hope Community Church in Venus, Texas, told WFAA Monday. “You know I’m still in shock of it all."
McDaniel was on his way home from a basketball tournament in West Texas on Saturday with his wife, Brandi, and daughter, Hannah, when the accident occurred at about 2:30 p.m. on I-20 East in Howard County, according to the news outlet.
"I was driving ... and I was overcome by coughing, and I blacked out," McDaniel recalled. "We hit the guardrail."
The accident remains under investigation, but a preliminary report confirmed that the guardrail entered the family’s 2023 Honda and injured all the occupants of the car. The pastor was treated for minor injuries at Scenic Mountain Medical Center.
McDaniel recalled trying to wake up his daughter when he revived and getting no response.
"I was asking [Hannah] to wake up … and … when she didn’t, obviously I knew and that’s when my heart died," the pastor said.
He said his daughter who died at the scene of the crash “was the center of my universe.”
Brandi, who he said loved the Lord and her job teaching children who have autism, is now “with the Lord” along with Hannah. He noted that it’s only the hope of reuniting with them one day that is keeping him going.
“That’s what I’ve got now," he said. "Without there being Heaven, without there being hope, where would people be?"
Hannah was a student athlete at Pantego Christian Academy where she played for the school’s basketball team. According to NBCDFW, her teammates were travelling on school buses behind her father’s car and saw the aftermath of the crash.
On Monday, the school remembered the 17-year-old as a “beloved member of our school community.”
“Today we came together to honor Hannah. She was a beloved member of our school community who left a permanent mark on all of our lives. Hannah was more than just a student; she was a friend, a classmate, a teammate and a source of inspiration to those around her,” Pantego Christian Academy wrote in a statement posted on Facebook.
“Her infectious laughter, compassionate nature and unwavering determination made her a shining star within our community. Hannah overflowed with JOY every day.”