Grieving parents cite dangers with popular church vans

Van Angels retrofitting 15-passenger vehicles
Mark Smith often contemplates what his daughter, Malori, would be doing now if she hadn’t been killed on a church mission trip to Mexico two years ago, six weeks after her high school graduation. “You can’t help wondering,” Smith said by phone from his Denver home.

Smith hopes that through a new nonprofit project, Van Angels, no other parents ever experience having a child killed while riding in a 15-passenger vehicle. The vehicles are often called “church vans” because of their popularity with church groups and because fatal accidents involved church groups grab headlines.

Malori was one of three people killed when the church van they were riding in crashed near Monterrey, Mexico, following the separation of a virtually new left-rear tire. The others killed were Bethany Bosarge, 16, of Peachtree, Georgia, and Jonathan Lomeli, 23, of Laredo, Texas. Several others were seriously injured.


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