Couple struck, killed by SUV outside Wisconsin church

 

January 26, 2015

CALEDONIA Parishioners consoled each other Sunday about the deaths of an elderly couple who were struck and killed by an SUV as they left church a day earlier.

Oscar and Vernetta Lang, both 83 and from Caledonia, were hit by the SUV at around 5:30 p.m. Saturday, police said. They had just attended Mass at St. Louis Catholic Church in Caledonia, where they were longtime members, The Journal Times reported (http://bit.ly/1EIIZxr ).

Two nurses who attended the service tried to save the couple while paramedics were on their way, said the church's pastor, the Rev. Mark Danczyk. Danczyk told the newspaper he was able to administer last rites to both victims before they died.

Neither the 32-year-old Caledonia woman who was driving the SUV nor her two children who were in the vehicle were hurt, Caledonia police Lt. Gary Larsen said. He said the crash remains under investigation, but that alcohol is not believed to have been a factor.

The pastor said the close-knit congregation, which has about 700 families, was in shock. Parishioners hugged each other after Sunday's services, and the church paused to pray for those involved in the accident, Danczyk said.

"Absolutely tragic," Danczyk said. He said he and many churchgoers ran to help the couple, who were crossing the road to their car when they were struck.

Vernetta Lang was thrown about 50 feet by the SUV and her husband about 150 feet, Danczyk said. He said her body was so badly mangled he did not recognize her.

"We heard a 'thunk' and everybody turned and three young girls saw what happened. They go, 'There's a body, there's a body,'" Danczyk told The Associated Press on Sunday. "We went running immediately."

The Wisconsin State Patrol and Racine County Sheriff's Office are assisting Caledonia police with the investigation, Larsen said.

 

Associated Press