(Article from Feb 19, 2006) (Article from Feb 20, 2006)

Posted on Mon, Feb. 20, 2006

Fort Worth church mourns the death of a pastor


Youth pastor David Phillips' death in a wreck on an icy patch of Interstate 20 on Sunday brought tears and sadness at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth, but some of those who knew him best said their heartache is only for those he left behind.

After all, they said, Phillips, 39, spent more than 20 years trying to learn all he could about God

"Now he's at peace," said Dixon Jowers, who worked with Phillips in the church's ministry. "His mind and his heart are fully at rest in the person he chased his whole life."

Phillips was one of five people killed in separate traffic accidents on Saturday and Sunday in Parker, Denton and Tarrant counties. At least three of the accidents were immediately blamed on icy streets, bridges or overpasses.

In addition, hundreds of accident calls, both serious and minor, kept firefighters and police busy throughout the Metroplex. The weather also forced delays and cancellations at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. But the ice should be gone by early today, as the forecast calls for temperatures in the high 40s.

Phillips, of Aledo, was killed as he drove to Fort Worth to preach a sermon on "The Path for Everyday Peace" at the 8:30 a.m. service at Christ Chapel, where more than 3,000 congregants gather every Sunday. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety office in Mineral Wells, he was eastbound on Interstate 20 in Parker County, just past Aledo, when he lost control on the ice and spun into the median.

His 1999 Toyota 4Runner then struck a series of cables in the median and overturned in the westbound lane. Phillips, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene, according to the accident report.

Phillips, whose title was Life Stage One pastor and high school minister, had a master of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, according to the church Web site. He and his wife, Jennifer, had been married for about a year and a half, friends said. Phillips had been at the church for about 10 years.

Sunday afternoon, church members and employees gathering for 5 p.m. worship service said that Phillips was the kind of leader who connected with others inside and outside church walls.

He didn't hesitate to invite members of the college and high school congregation to his home for a night of hot wings and watching television shows like 24 and Lost. He also often treated staff members to a lunch at his favorite sushi restaurant or at Uncle Julio's, a Mexican restaurant near the church.

"He's bought me probably a thousand lunches," said Jimmy Williams, a Texas Christian University student who had known Phillips for eight years and who volunteers at the church.

Phillips was a voracious reader and avid scuba diver, but he was defined by his faith and devotion to Christianity, Williams and others said. They said they have no doubt that that is the message he would have wanted to be left by his death.

Kathy Harrelson, who assisted Phillips in the high school ministry, said: "He would care more that people knew Christ than [he would] that people knew him."

Other accidents

Treacherous road conditions helped cause several other serious accidents during the weekend. In Tarrant County, three people died in separate accidents after the cold blast and winter precipitation hit.

About 1 a.m. Saturday, a 44-year-old man was killed when his car was broadsided by another vehicle as he pulled into the 3600 block of Hulen Street in Fort Worth, police said. The driver of the other vehicle, Willem Devijlder, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of intoxication manslaughter with a vehicle, according to Fort Worth police reports. The police report did not say whether road conditions were a factor in the wreck.

Icy conditions were to blame in a Saturday night accident in Fort Worth that left a 67-year-old man dead, said Sgt. Rodney Bangs of the Fort Worth police traffic investigation unit. Conrad Gamez of Fort Worth lost control of his Ford van on the Interstate 30 bridge over Camp Bowie Boulevard and struck the retaining wall several times, police said.

The accident happened just before 8 p.m. Gamez died at Harris Methodist Fort Worth hospital about an hour later, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner's Web site.

Also on Saturday night, a Haltom City man was fatally injured when he was involved in an accident in the 2100 block of Handley Drive about 11 p.m. Adam Hess, 22, died at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth early Sunday morning, according to the medical examiner's Web site.

The Web site said Hess' car struck a building, but Bangs was uncertain of the details or whether icy roads were a factor.

Denton County accident

Icy streets in Denton were responsible for an accident that killed one Sanger man and critically injured another shortly before 6 a.m. Saturday near the University of North Texas on northbound Interstate 35E.

A white Jeep lost control and struck a guardrail on the inside of that highway, said Jim Bryan, a Denton Police spokesman. A driver who stopped to help, a 30-year-old Sanger man, exited his vehicle and was approaching the Jeep to help when the Jeep was struck by a Ford F-150. This impact caused the Jeep to spin, ejecting the driver and striking the Sanger man, reports say.

He was knocked into the southbound lane of the highway, where he was struck by at least two more vehicles, Bryan said.

The Sanger man and the Jeep driver, Steve Hartsburg, 39, also of Sanger, were taken to Harris Methodist Fort Worth, where Hartsburg died about 8 a.m., the Tarrant County medical examiner's office reported.

The 30-year-old man's injuries are believed to be life-threatening, Bryan said.

(Article from Feb 19, 2006)