By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
A wreck Sunday afternoon involving a vehicle full of middle school children has deeply affected the ACU community after one boy died and seven others were injured in a rollover.
Members of Highland Church of Christ were returning from Winterfest, a youth rally in Arlington, when the wreck occurred at 2:45 p.m. Julie Folwell, 49, was driving west on Interstate 20 a little more than a mile west of Putnam when she ran off the road into the center median, then overcorrected to the right, said Bill Russell, senior state trooper who was at the scene. The GMC Yukon XL rolled one and a half to two and a half times, and all eight passengers were wearing their seatbelts, Russell said.
Brody Bourland, 11, was pronounced dead at the scene, and his funeral service was Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Highland. He is survived by his parents, Bret and Jennifer Bourland, and brothers Taylor Hill, 17, and Brock Bourland, 7, according to his obituary. His father is an alumnus of ACU.
Dickie Porche, an elder, administrator and involvement minister for Highland, said the church family and community have responded in an amazing way.
“The families feel greatly buoyed; they feel a wonderful lift of support in prayer from everybody,” he said. “… Life is not normal for them right now. We’re thankful that those who were injured are going to be better, but we just don’t lose sight of the fact that one family lost their child.”
Porche said those injured in the wreck have suffered numerous injuries and are continuing to recover.
Three passengers remain at Cook Children’s Health Care System in Fort Worth. A hospital official said the boys are in good condition and have been moved out of critical care. They are:
* Jon Westin Bennett, 11, is the son of Terrie Bennett, former development director of KACU, and Wes Bennett.
* Chris Cope, 12, is the son of Mike Cope, instructor of Bible, missions and ministry and preacher at Highland, and Diane Cope.
* Austin Lemmons, 11, is the son of Thom Lemmons, manager of ACU Press and HillCrest Publishing. His mother is Cheryl Lemmons, professor of music and piano accompanist. His sister, Heather, is a journalism major.
Conditions of other passengers include:
* Folwell, ACU class of 1976, is at Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock and is in stable condition, a hospital official said. She is married to Larry Folwell.
* Beth Johnston, 14, was released from Hendrick Medical Center on Sunday night. She is the daughter of Tim Johnston, assistant vice president for enrollment at ACU, and Tina Johnston.
* Chris Perkins, 12, was also released from Hendrick on Sunday. He is the son of Dr. Scott Perkins, associate professor of psychology, and Rachel Perkins, former instructor of Academic Advance.
* Amara Childers, 14, remains in Hendrick and is recovering from injuries to her spleen and femur, her father said. She is the daughter of Dr. Jeff Childers, associate professor of Bible, ministry and missions, and Linda Childers.
Mark Lewis, director of Spiritual Life, said everyone has really come together during this time.
“It’s been an amazing thing to watch the Highland family and the community pull together and gather with the youth group kids and the parents and helping them walk through the pain,” he said.
Porche said an “army of people” have been helping the families since Sunday, but even students can help in small ways.
There are “two things that may seem simple, but they’re very valid. One is they can pray for the family that lost a child, and they can pray for those kids who are healing and for their families.
“Another thing ACU students can do that would be wonderful would be to write notes, send cards, both to the family that’s grieving and to the kids that are injured and to their families. That’s an important thing … that they continue to feel the support and the grace and love that people are sharing.”
Messages can be sent to Jim Hinkle, youth and family minister, Highland Church of Christ, 425 Highland Ave., Abilene, TX 79605.