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Cedar Grove Baptist members gather for information, support | Community Spirit

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Cedar Grove Baptist members gather for information, support
Cedar Grove Baptist members gather for information, support

"Good people, nice people, all around good-nature place you'd want to come," was how Rhonda Byrd described the Cedar Grove Baptist Church in rural Blount County.


She said members are like family to her.  Now that same family is in heartache Sunday night after the church's youth group director/coordinator Jeff Trussell, 45, and youth member Courtney Kaliszewski, 16, died in a violent head on car crash with another driver.

At least 10 others were hurt after Tyler Schaeffer, 21, hit the church van on Zion Hill Church Road in Sevier County.


The van was coming back from a youth retreat in Gatlinburg.

"I about fell to my knees, it was really sad. I couldn't explain the words to it," Byrd said.  She said the congregation found out about the crash shortly before their Sunday morning services.


Since then, the church has become a makeshift headquarters where members can find out more information on the victims.

"People has been going around, consoling each other over the loss, and gathering, being a part of the church membership," Byrd said.


The church's pastor, Bobby Lynch told 10News the crash was "tragic," as he was consoling loved ones at UT Medical Center.



Byrd said prayers are what the church needs right now more than ever as her "church family" goes through this time of mourning.


"Courtney (Kaliszewski), the little girl who died, please send your prayers out to (her) family. They're going to need it," she said.

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