Pastor, family of tornado site church killed in car accident

A funnel cloud of the tornado that touched down in Atkins, Ark., is seen at about 5 p.m. Feb. 5, 2008. The photo was taken outside Atkins High School. Tornadoes across four Southern states tore through homes, ripped the roof off a shopping mall and blew apart warehouses in a rare spasm of violent winter weather. (Photo: AP Photo/The Courier, Mike Avery)

LAFAYETTE, Tenn. (AP) -- A minister who was helping lead tornado recovery efforts in Lafayette and his family have been killed in a traffic accident two days after the storm.

The Highway Patrol and Lafayette United Methodist Church have confirmed that minister Michael L. Welch died Thursday when his van was struck by a tractor-trailer.

Welch's wife, Julie, his 11-year-old daughter, Hannah, and his 14-year-old son, Jesse, also died when the truck slammed into the rear of their vehicle.

Welch had helped set up his church as a family crisis center, where he and pastors from other churches provided grief counseling. A tornado killed 14 people in Macon County on Tuesday.

A secretary at the church said Welch, who was 51, is survived by an adult son.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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