ST. PAULS — Pastor David Hodge took a moment on the first night of the town’s annual community revival Sunday to speak on the lives lost in a head-on collision on Saturday night near St. Pauls — one victim a fellow pastor and the other, a pastor’s teenage son.
“As we gather, we remember the tragedy that happened Saturday night,” Hodge said from the pulpit of Calvary Cornerstone Holiness Church, this year’s hosting sanctuary. “We want to keep the Murdock family and the Strickland family in our prayers.”
The accident on U.S. 301 near St. Pauls killed Frank Strickland, 32, of 510 E. Broad St., and 16-year-old Zachery Murdock, of 467 Great Marsh Church Road. Strickland was the pastor of New Beginnings Church of God, and Murdock’s father Ron is the pastor of Westview Pentecostal Holiness Church.
There were multiple passengers in Strickland’s vehicle, including his wife Stacy and daughter Gabby, who were taken to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. They were listed in stable condition Monday.
According to the state Highway Patrol, Murdock was traveling north on U.S. 301, 3.4 miles north of Lumberton, in a 1993 Ford Ranger when it crossed over the center line and hit Strickland’s vehicle, a 2005 Ford Expedition.
Murdock, who was on his way to his job at Chick-fil-A in Lumberton, died instantly, according to the report by Trooper Jonathan Scott, of the state Highway Patrol. and the truck veered to the right and burst into flames. Strickland’s vehicle came to rest in a ditch.
Murdock was traveling 70 mph in the 55-mph zone, according to the report.
A candlelight vigil has been scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. at the St. Pauls War Memorial. A post on the Facebook page for New Beginnings Church of God read that the church had lost a “true man of God.”
“We will miss you Bro. Frank, and I know you are having your conversation with Jesus,” the post read.
Chick-fil-A is normally closed on Sundays, but was open this Sunday to those who wanted to gather in remembrance of Murdock, whom they called “Zack.”
“I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the 100 or so team members and friends who came out today to remember Zack, and to pray for the Murdock and Strickland families,” Mark Morse, store owner, posted on the business’ Facebook page on Sunday. “… We will be here to serve you this week, albeit with heavy hearts.”
Hodge said that he wanted Sunday’s congregation to know the accident is a part of a larger plan.
“… We know that God has his hand in everything,” he said. “This didn’t take him by surprise.”