Vehicle hits, kills wheelchair-bound woman leaving church

Handicapped Woman Killed in Sharp County

ASH FLAT, AR (KAIT) - A wheelchair-bound woman leaving a church service at her church died when a vehicle struck her.

Laura Reid Mitchell, 53, of Ash Flat was identified by Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts as the woman who died.

Counts states that dispatch received a call about the crash around 8:17 p.m. Wednesday.

The incident happened on Highway 62 in Ash Flat at the Crossroads Baptist Church.

Those in the community knew Mitchell simply as Ms. Laura and saw her go everywhere on her motorized wheelchair.

Several members of the church's congregation said Mitchell was a wonderful lady who will be missed.

"She gave a testimony about the choir and how much it meant to her, how much the church family meant to her, just literally moment before this happened," church member Stan Haney said.

The Crossroad Baptist Church, which preaches come as you are, leave better then you came,  meant everything to Mitchell.

"Church was her life, she loved to come and loved to sing," Pastor Henry Parker said.

Pastor Parker told Region 8 News that Mitchell also meant a lot to the church and the members.

"This was her family, the church was her family. She enjoyed being here and we enjoyed having her here," Parker said.

"She was just a blessing to the church, she really was," Haney said.

According to Parker, Laura joined Crossroads Baptist more than five years ago after a friend asked her to attend the church just down the street from her home.

"And in a couple of Sunday's she rolled in here on her wheel chair," Parker said.

Every Sunday since that day she could be seen riding her wheelchair from her apartment down the road to church.

The church even built a small ramp for Mitchell's chair.

"We could always depend on her, she was always here. She was a testimony to coming to church," Parker said.

Members said when Mitchell was not in church you knew something was wrong.

"We all knew she was sick or something because she just didn't miss," Haney said.

Beside her commitment to church, she was also loved for her outgoing personality.

"She had a very good outlook on life she was very friendly and outgoing. Very seldom did you ever see her down and out she always had a smile on," Parker said.

Many also commented on her wonderful voice, which she displayed every Sunday in the choir.

"She sang in the choir and just had a very beautiful voice, it would surprise you to hear her sing," Haney said.

While the church is having a hard time seeing such a horrific accident play out in front of the congregation.

"It is kind of devastating right now, it is just a bad deal," Haney said.

Many said they are just glad they had a chance to know her.

"Being in her condition she could very easily be home bound. And I thank god she had the courage, she didn't have the strength but she courage and the effort,"  Parker said.

The congregation and friends now just pray for healing of those who miss Mitchell.

"A Lot of people will miss seeing that wheelchair up and down the highway and the streets," Parker said.

They also hope Mitchell is remembered for her loving and caring nature.

"For her kind heart, she was just willing to help everybody. She really loved the lord is  probably in a better place right now," Haney said.

Parker told Region 8 News Mitchell was laid to rest Thursday by the county in a local cemetery just down the road from Crossroads Baptist.

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