Five students who were killed in a series of crashes by a wrong-way driver while on their way home to Arkansas from a Bible college in Wyoming have been remembered by their community for their strong faith and commitment to evangelism.
According to KATV, Sylvan Hills High School seniors Susana "Suzy" Prime and Ava Luplow, both 18, and three recent graduates, Salomon Correa, 21, Maggie Franco, 20, and 23-year-old Andrea Prime, Suzy's sister, were driving home from Jackson Hole Bible College on Interstate 80 on Sunday when a Dodge Ram was reported heading east in the westbound lanes.
The pickup truck collided with a passenger car and commercial truck, forcing another truck to swerve into the other side of the road where the driver collided head-on with the students' Ford F-150.
The truck and the students' vehicle were engulfed in flames, killing the five young adults and leaving others with critical injuries.
Authorities said the driver of the Dodge has been arrested on suspicion of impairment and could face other charges as the investigation unfolds.
On Facebook, Faith Bible Fellowship, the church all five students attended, mourned the deaths of the students and announced that a combined funeral service will be held on Feb. 4 at 10 a.m. at the Sylvan Hills High School Performing Arts Center.
"Our fellowship is mourning the loss of five of our young adults," the church said.
Following the deadly crash, more than 100 people gathered at the Faith Bible Fellowship, in Arkansas, the church that the young adults attended, for a candlelight vigil.
Quint Scruggs, who is an alum of Sylvan Hills High, told the station the community is in disbelief.
Scruggs said he went to school with some of the victims, adding that they were "always joyful, I mean there was never a dull moment, always made you laugh.”
Two of the young adults, Susana and Ava, worked at the Humble Crumb bakery near their high school, where Maggie had also worked along with family members.
Ruth and Betsy Peters, owners of the bakery, told local KARK that they were devastated to learn of the girl’s death. Betsy Peters told the outlet she takes comfort in a recent Bible verse both Susana and Ava had posted on their Instagram accounts: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
“I just couldn't believe it because that's what's happening. … God is being glorified through them and that's what they wanted,” Betsy said.
The bakery said they would be closing for two weeks to allow employees to grieve the girls' deaths.
"Our lives are forever changed and the bakery will continually feel this void. Our small team lost two of our own, two of our gems, on Sunday," the Facebook post said. "The news has broken our hearts and we are still trying the wrap our minds around this new reality.
"We have ONE comfort and ONE hope and that is the comfort that comes only from God," the business posted on Facebook. "Ava and Suzy loved Jesus and they knew Jesus as their redeeming Savior. They wanted to serve him with their lives and they were trusting in HIM for their salvation. They are now with HIM in glory and while we suffer their loss, our hearts are also filled with hope."
Lydia VanderVate, who grew up in the Faith Bible Fellowship with all five victims, told the outlet the community is devastated by the accident.
“It feels like my heart is broken,” she said. “They all had such bubbly personalities, could get along, always laughing with each other.”
Both Peters and VanderVate told the outlet they are “hoping to share the Gospel that is currently carrying them through this time of loss.”
“Ruth said she hopes this story reassures readers and viewers of the character of God and what He has done for them and can do for everyone else, too,” the story added.
On social media, Sylvan Hills High School said counseling will be offered to students and staff who need it.
“Our thoughts are with the families and school community as they grieve the loss of such young lives,” the school said in a Facebook post. “You all will be greatly missed.”
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: email@example.com