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North Little Rock church mourns five members killed in Wyoming crash

by Paige Eichkorn | January 25, 2023 at 4:04 a.m.
FILE — The exterior of Sylvan Hills High School is shown in this 2020 file photo.

Faith Bible Fellowship Church in North Little Rock is grieving five young members lost to a fatal multi-vehicle crash in Wyoming on Sunday.

The crash, according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol, happened when a vehicle driving the wrong way on Interstate 80 near the town of Rawlins caused a crash that a truck swerved to avoid and ran into the oncoming lane and hit the Arkansans' vehicle.

The incident claimed the lives of two current Sylvan Hills students and three former students. In a post on the school's Facebook page, the current students were identified as Susana "Suzy" Prime, 18, and Ava Luplow, 18. The three former students, all graduates, were identified as Andrea Prime, 23; Salomon Correa, 21; and Maggie Franco, 20.

A Pulaski County Special School District spokesperson said the group of five were on their way back to Arkansas after visiting Jackson Hole Bible College in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Faith Bible Fellowship has set up a Cash App account for donations to the families of the deceased. The congregation of 125 saw many new guests at a memorial service for the families on Monday night.

Elizabeth Conway, a close friend to both Prime sisters, Ava Luplow and Maggie Franco, said the group was like family and they would have been "so joyful" to see how many friends and family came to remember them.

Conway is an admissions officer at Central Baptist College and said that Luplow had just sent her a testimony for a scholarship to attend the college and Suzy Prime was working on hers as well.

"They both just had those leader personalities, that's just how they were, every single one of them," she said. "It's just a blessing -- we've all been talking about how they all had some unsaved family members and they were always, each and every one of them, were praying for someone that was unsaved in their family consistently at church."

Correa and Andrea Prime were alumni of Jackson Hole Bible College and the Fellowship Church has a close connection to the school, with one of their pastors teaching as a guest lecturer, Conway said.

At the time of the fatal crash, all three of the church's pastors were in Mexico with their sponsored missionaries. Brothers Phillip, Nate and Daniel Persson spoke of the devastation they felt when they heard the news within the first few days of their trip at a member gathering at the church on Tuesday.

"We all are just right now clinging to faith and it's such a blessing and it gives us peace to know that each and every one of them knew the Lord," Conway said. "There's a different kind of peace that comes from ... we know for sure that every single one of them knew the Lord and that's just a blessing to know that they are probably dancing on streets of gold right now. It's definitely hard. We grieve with one another that they're not here, on earth, they're not here for us to hug their necks and tell them how much they mean to us."

Franco was the "best friend" of Conway's brother, Isaac Riley.

"We're all just like family, I would always check in on those young girls that I cared so much about them," Conway said. "And it's sad because I saw so much and I wanted to become so much more invested in their lives. When I would look at them, I would just think, wow, I can't wait to invest in them more and now it's kind of just taken away."

Correa was originally from Mexico and found a connection through the Fellowship Church in their missionary camp. Conway said he was a wonderful example of a hard-working, caring and loving person.

"He always wanted to help people," she said. "He always was there to help others and he cared about putting others before himself."

Of Luplow, Conway said her personality was "so vibrant, so big and so friendly."

Of Suzy Prime, Conway said she was a true and loyal friend.

"Every single one of them just radiated the love of Christ so well," she said. "They were all examples to people wherever they went, people were looking up to them. They were an example of what it looks like to follow Christ faithfully."

Zack Conway, Elizabeth Conway's father, said the church pours into the lives of its young people because "that's the future of our church," and to see the five young students want to attend Jackson Hole Bible College was a "blessing."

"It was very commendable to see them all want to go to the same school and at least check it out and see if it was something they want to do in the future," he said. "I have lots of memories of each one of them."

Elizabeth Conway's brother Matthew Riley is engaged to Andrea and Suzy Prime's sister, Elizabeth.

"I've got a lot of ties, that tie me together with a lot of these young people," Zack Conway said. "People that didn't know them don't realize what a loss it really was. Just beautiful, beautiful young people, beautiful hearts, that love the Lord and wanted the Lord glorified through their lives. And that's what they would want, if anybody remembers them they would want the Lord to be glorified. And that's hard to imagine from young people like them, but it's true."

Elizabeth Dilts, a member of the church for two years, said the congregation is doing its best to make sure the families have food, shelter and everything needed for their extended family visiting.

"Everybody's taking off work," she said. "I mean, there's just going to be financial things that are happening and we don't want them to have to worry about any of that. I mean, we're committed as a church to take care of it."

Any physical gifts of meals, flowers or cards can be brought to the church and they will send a dedicated person to deliver them to the families, Dilts said.

Dilts' daughter was in Andrea Prime's Sunday school class, so she knows she will be asked, "Where's Miss Andrea?"

"She's never going to know, she's never going to remember," she said. "So there's something to the childlike innocence of this won't affect you the rest of your life but it's sad as a parent. My children are from 2 to 12. They're wondering what's happening and they're so close to all of the -- all five of them have been their VBS leaders, Sunday school class leaders, church camp counselors, things like that ... People we're gonna miss, they were involved in my kids lives."

At the same time, Dilts said she knows that the Prime sisters, Luplow, Correa, and Franco are all where they need to be, "with the Lord."

"We're very thankful for people giving because it helps, I know to be able to do something helps yourself, like you feel like you can take part in the grief if you can help the family," she said. "Prayer is definitely the thing we want the most though. I know people will say that, but it really is true because you get to the end of yourself where you're like, I can't even pray anymore, I hope somebody's praying for me. That's kind of how a lot of us feel is like, you just get so tired and you need someone to take that burden."


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