NC congregation recalls eerie last words of pastor hit, killed on highway

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LAKE WACCAMAW, N.C. (WECT) – A pastor from Shallotte was hit and killed by a vehicle while checking on a driver with whom he had been in a minor accident that happened just before 7 p.m Tuesday in Columbus County.

According to Sgt. Brian Ezzell with the State Highway Patrol, Vaughn Cherry, 74, of Whiteville, was trying to turn onto U.S. 74/76 from Chauncey Town Road near Lake Waccamaw when he failed to yield to oncoming traffic

Ezzell said a car was coming, saw Cherry pulling out and took evasive action to avoid a collision, ending up in the median. That driver had minor injuries and is expected to be OK.

Cherry parked his car in the median to check on the other driver and was hit by another vehicle and killed.

Cherry’s wife, Mary, was the bearer of bad news.

“She told me he was gone and I asked, ‘Gone where? Where did he go?’” recalled Deacon Arthur Bland, who spent part of Tuesday with the pastor. “She said, ‘He’s gone. I mean, he is dead. He is in the morgue.’ It was such a shock to me.”

Bland and other parishioners of Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church gathered in the small sanctuary Wednesday morning, holding hands and praying for Cherry’s wife and family.

“He has always been a caring person. Most pastors should represent the passion that Jesus represented, and he took that with great honor,” Deacon Larry Piggott said.

Piggott and others recall Cherry’s sermon from Sunday when he said these words at the end of his service: “If you don’t hear my voice anymore, know that I’ll be OK.”

“It’s like it was confirmation to us that if something went wrong, he would be in the hands of the Lord,” Piggott said.

Cherry had been pastor of the congregation of about 200 since 1988. Parishioners said they aren’t surprised that even though he failed to yield to an oncoming car, he did stop to make sure the other driver was OK.

“It’s something he would have done. He loved everybody,” church member Tasheka King said. “If he saw you on the side of the road, or if you ever needed anything, he would offer his help.”

Church leaders said they will hold regular services on Sunday because that is what Cherry and his wife would want.

“Our community is in mourning right now, but we have to stand up and keep going,” Bland said.

No charges have been filed against the driver that fatally struck Cherry, according to the Highway Patrol.

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