Church center car crash leaves 1 dead, 51 injured

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Church center car crash leaves 1 dead, 51 injured

A car crashed into a church center in Gongju, South Chungcheong, yesterday, killing a 10-year-old boy and injuring around 51 other people.

An SM7 sedan, which was being driven inside the Galilee Training Center compound, abruptly accelerated toward the building’s first floor parking lot and rest area, hitting several people in the process.

Several church members who had been participating in a Bible study summer school were taking a break after lunch in the rest area when they were hit by the vehicle.

“The car ran into the building, making a huge sound as if it had suddenly unintentionally accelerated,” said a deacon of the church who was at the scene.

The injured - many of them children - were rushed to hospitals in Gongju and Cheonan, South Chungcheong.

A 10-year-old boy died after arriving at a hospital in Cheonan.

Sixteen of the wounded are reportedly severely hurt or are in critical condition.

No further deaths have been confirmed as of press time.

The police said that the 53-year-old driver of the sedan, who also attends the church, insisted that the car had accelerated suddenly and had not stopped even after she applied the brakes.

The police said it is investigating further to determine the exact cause of the accident.

The incident drew further public attention when it was rumored that the center is related to the Evangelical Baptist Church, the Christian sect founded by the late patriarch behind the doomed Sewol ferry, Yoo Byung-eun.

Yoo’s religious group became mired in controversy when it was alleged that its members helped Yoo and his eldest son avoid being investigated by police about their role in the ferry’s sinking.

The church has denied any relation to Yoo’s sect.

The camp, which was attended by families of some 50 churches nationwide, started Wednesday and was set to end today.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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