“They truly loved each other:” Church family distraught after elderly couple hit by SUV & killed

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CALEDONIA (WITI) -- A husband and wife, crossing the street after church in Caledonia Saturday, January 24th were killed when they were hit by an SUV. Loved ones, and the couple's church family are trying to come to grips with the tragic loss.

With tears in his eyes, Father Mark Danczyk made an announcement to parishioners at St. Louis Catholic Church on County Road G in Caledonia Sunday. Father Danczyk says his last interaction with Oscar and Vernetta Lang has been replaying in his mind.

"Vernetta said 'Father Mark, you should go inside. It`s so cold out here.' I said 'I like ice and snow. I don`t mind being out in the cold,' and she said 'okay, you take care of yourself' and kind of smiled. I said 'you take care of yourself too.' A minute-and-a-half later..." Father Danczyk said.

Police say Oscar and Vernetta Lang were crossing the street -- headed for their vehicle when they were hit by an SUV.

"I heard the big thump and everyone immediately turned to see what happened. One of the girls immediately screamed 'oh my God. There`s a body on the side of the road.' Some of us went running immediately to the lady. We heard another lady holler 'there`s another body down here' about 125 feet down the road," Father Danczyk said.

Several witnesses tried to help, but Oscar and Vernetta Lang died as a result of their injuries.

"The one image that sticks in my mind is the four empty shoes in the middle of the road," Father Danczyk said.

Father Danczyk says he's distraught over what happened.

"Slept half-an-hour, throwing up , non-stop crying. If I'm going through this I can`t imagine what the family is going through during this tragic time," Father Danczyk said.

Oscar and Vernetta Lang, each 83 years old were long-time parishioners of St. Louis Catholic Church. They were married for 60 years.

"They truly loved each other. They were always holding hands," Father Danczyk said.

Described as kind and generous people, the couple's death is heartbreaking for all who knew them. Many of them are now trying to find solace in their faith.

"We also pray for one another -- especially when tragedy occurs. Parishioners reach out to pray for those who are hurting," father Danczyk said.

Counselors are being made available at the church for those who'd like to talk.

As for the striking driver, police say she had two children in the vehicle with her when the deadly crash occurred. No one in that vehicle was injured.

Police do not believe alcohol was a factor in this incident.

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11 comments

  • tell the truth

    Was the driver distracted by a cell phone…how fast was she going…geez. …prayers for the family of the couple

      • Kathy Richards

        No it is not reduced in front of the church, in fact just before the church the speed limit is posted at 45 MPH. There is no crosswalk, no lighting and it was dark.

      • Kathy Richards

        Actually it depends which way you are driving there is no reduced speed posted going one way and coming the other way the speed doesn’t decrease until 1/2 block from the entrance of the church.

    • Kathy Richards

      The driver was going under the speed limit, there is no lighting or cross walk where the couple was hit.

      • karen

        There is an investigation on the speed. Their shoes were still left in their spots on the street and one body was found 125ft away from the other. Speed is definitely an issue here. and it wasn’t under 45mph.

      • Kathy Richards

        You are right is posted 35 MPH less than a block from the church and you certainly can be thrown that far at 35 MPH

    • Kathy Richards

      “It is kind of a dark area to try to cross the street and the woman did not see them until it was too late,” said Lt. Gary Larsen, Caledonia police. At the wheel, a mother of two, her children in the backseat. “The driver of the vehicle stayed. She’s been cooperative with us and obviously after an event like that, she’s pretty traumatized,” said LT. Larsen. Police say alcohol is not suspected. But, there are unanswered questions, like whether speed played a role.
      “At this point it’s very early in the investigation so we haven’t had a chance to look at that. The state patrol’s traffic response unit’s coming and going to be working the accident,” said Lt. Larsen.

  • kathy

    Together they left this world holding hands I to heaven, I see something beautiful in this tragic story. One did not have to watch the other passing slowly or in bad health as I have seen way too much lately, to me this was a blessing for them and their love. I just watched my dad bury wide number two, his being a caregiver has taken a toll on him more so this last one 16 years from the first, he had 51 years with mom, 16 with this one, I see what this couple was spared. But sad it happened this way and other lives are tragically changed as a result.

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