While we were back in New Jersey in 2008, we had a college friend from our missionary community, Allison, babysit for us while we led a small group. She is an M.K. — her parents have been serving in Taiwan which is where she and her siblings grew up.
In January, her older sister Aimee was killed in a head-on collison while going to her elementary school teaching job. It was so tragic. Allison and her family of course are still reeling from the huge void in their lives. So impossible to understand. But even more impossible is her family’s response to the young man who drove the truck and killed Aimee. Here is the latest update from the local newspaper. It reminded me again this week of the impossible power of the Gospel to bring grace and freedom where the world says there should be anger and revenge. Even in the little places in my life I know the Lord wants more and more grace. A wonderful reminder. Here’s the full article.
Driver charged in wreck that killed teacher
by Frank DeLoache March 5, 2010
HUNTERSVILLE – Prosecutors have charged an 18-year-old Vale man with misdemeanor death by vehicle in the head-on collision that killed a fourth-grade teacher at SouthLake Christian Academy in January.
The parents of Aimee Elisabeth Powell, 25, asked prosecutors not to charge Stephen Todd Richard, and the pastors of Uptown Church of Charlotte, where Powell was well known, say they hope to reach out to the teenager.
“It was Aimee’s parents’ intention – and the church’s – to reach out to Mr. Richard,” the Rev. Dave Kulp, assistant pastor at the Presbyterian church, said Monday, Feb. 22. “He has a lot on his plate. He has to live with this the rest of his life. But Aimee’s parents want this to be a story of grace and redemption.
“It was not really him who took Aimee. It was part of God’s greater plan, which we can’t understand, but it is what we believe. As her parents said, Mr. Richard didn’t wake up that morning knowing he wanted to kill their daughter. The church wants to give the same message. We don’t have a way to reach out to him, but we want him to know that God’s grace is bigger than this tragedy, and we are here if he wants to reach out to anybody close to her.”
Richard is charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle and driving left of center. Police say his Dodge truck struck Powell’s Pontiac Grand Am on N.C. 73, near Beatties Ford Road, Jan. 21 about 7:05 a.m., as Powell drove to her job at SouthLake Academy.
Huntersville Police Lt. Ken Richardson said the investigation found Richard at fault for the accident but did not find any other negligent factors. Richard was not speeding, using his cell phone or under the influence, Richardson said. That’s why he is charged with misdemeanors.
Because Richard sustained broken bones, officers issued him a citation for the charges at his home at 6962 Gene Baxter Lane in rural Lincoln County, Richardson said. They did not try to bring him to the Mecklenburg County Jail for booking.
A woman who identified herself as Richard’s mother said the teenager would have no comment on the charges.
Powell’s parents are career missionaries in Taiwan, where she grew up. She had only moved to the United States when she was 18. She graduated from Columbia International University in Columbia, S.C., with a degree in elementary education.
Kulp, the assistant pastor at Uptown Church, said church members, on behalf of Powell’s parents, tried to contact Richard while he was still at Presbyterian Hospital to let him know they bore him no ill will. But because of federal patient privacy laws, hospital officials said they couldn’t even relay a message. Powell’s parents also told police investigators they didn’t want to press charges, Kulp said, but authorities told them the gravity of the accident didn’t give them that option.
“We know he must be dealing with a lot of stuff,” Kulp said. “We wanted him to know, ‘If you want to talk to anybody, the church’s pastors would be glad to talk’ – for the simple reason of caring for him, not laying any blame.
“… In the middle of a tragic situation, Aimee’s parents and the church want to be able to show God’s grace. This is a great tragedy, but not one that exceeds God’s grace and forgiveness. God’s grace is much greater than any sin we can commit, even an unintended tragedy like this.”
Powell’s parents remain in the United States for now, though they intend to return to Taiwan, Kulp said. The church established a fund to help pay for the Powells to travel to Charlotte from Taiwan and to cover funeral expenses.
Powell had many friends at Uptown Church, and “I would just say there’s a lot of people struggling,” Kulp said. “But God’s grace is sufficient.”
Kulp said Powell’s parents and friends are basing their faith on Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
“Although we can’t fully understand how that applies in this case, we know that our God is all powerful and all good, and it is in Him that we trust,” Kulp said.