BRULE, Neb. — A young couple that was traveling to a missionary training session was killed on Sunday along with their three children, and the tractor trailer driver who rear-ended their vehicle is now facing several charges of vehicular homicide.
Jamison and Kathryne Pals of Minnesota, both 29, were reportedly traveling this past weekend to Littleton, Colorado for training with the group WorldVenture. The two had sold their belongings are were planning on moving to Japan to share Christ with the Japanese people.
“It just seems fitting to go to the place where there are the most people without sufficient witness to the gospel and all its awesomeness,” Jamison Pals had written on the couple’s blog “For the Joy of Japan. “The Church in Japan is not yet large enough to share Christ and disciple new believers on its own. There is a need for more laborers.”
However, while traveling through a construction zone on Interstate 80, their minivan was rear-ended by a tractor trailer driven by Tony Weekly, 53. The impact caused both Pals’ and Weekly’s vehicles to collide with three other cars, and then go up in flames.
While Weekly was treated at a local hospital and released, the Pals did not survive the accident. Their three children, Ezra, 3, Violet, 23 months, and Calvin, 2 months, also died at the scene.
Five others were also transported to the hospital. Their conditions are unknown at this time.
Following his release from Sedgewick County Hospital, Weekly was arrested and booked at Keith County jail on five felony counts of vehicular homicide—two counts for the couple, and three for their children.
WorldVenture released a statement about the crash on Monday, expressing both sorrow and hope.
“Though we are devastated, we are praying that God would bring many to Christ through their testimonies and this tragedy,” President Jeff Denlinger said.
The organization noted that the Pals were planning on working with Christ Bible Institute in Nagoya City, where they would evangelize the Japanese and help disciple new believers. Kathryne also hoped to teach English to children.
Family and friends remembered the Pals as being kind-hearted people who had compassion for others and a passion for the gospel.
“Jamison and Kathryne … they had a heart for people,” Rick Pals told the Omaha World-Herald. “They loved what they were doing.”
“[They were the] most selfless people you would ever want to meet,” said Andy Carr of Feed My Starving Children, a non-profit charity where Jamison Pals worked as a grantwriter.
WorldVenture says that it plans to create a memorial fund in honor of the Pals family.