Families lean on faith after tragic crash

“Their faith is getting them through this.”


Shelton Daniel
Greater Joy Baptist Church bishop

By Brie Handgraaf

Staff Writer

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Three families are looking for answers and grieving the loss of their sons in a fiery Friday morning wreck.

“We are continuing to investigate and are working to determine the cause of this tragedy,” Rocky Mount police Cpl. Mike Lewis said.

Officials would not comment on any factors in the collision that occurred around 1:50 a.m. when a 2001 Lincoln LS believed to be driven by Kyol Allen-Gailliard veered off the roadway and collided with a brick building on South Grace Street near Chester Street. The car caught fire in the crash that killed the three occupants, wo have not been officially identified as law enforcement is waiting on testing by the medical examiner’s office.

Sources close to the case have said the individuals believed to have been with 27-year-old Allen-Gailliard are Dennis Battle, 21, and Jason Britt, 29 – all of whom were musicians and had ties to local churches.

“I have had the opportunity to be with all three families during this time and they are doing exceptionally well given the loss of their children,” Greater Joy Baptist Church Bishop Shelton Daniel said. “Their faith is getting them through this, but it is important that everyone keeps these families in their prayers throughout this difficult time.”

The Rev. Dr. Elbert Lee Jr. has responded to the tragedy by creating an ongoing prayer walk from The New Life Center, 343 S. Grace St., to the crash site. The veteran pastor is asking anyone from the community to set aside as their schedule allows to walk the short distance, pray for those involved and reflect upon the fragility of life.

“It feels as if during this time, we need our faith leaders more than ever because they are crucial to the development and betterment of our society,” Lee said. “Without faith, we are living in a world without substance.”

The idea for an ongoing prayer walk reportedly came to Lee in prayer and has been embraced by other faith leaders. He said he hopes the broad-reaching impact of the tragedy encourages others to embrace faith as those who were killed did. A release from Word Tabernacle Church – where Allen-Gailliard’s father is the senior pastor – indicates the tragedy has bound those impacted together.

“An inherent part of our ministry is that we always pray, consider others, and minister to them even when we are being challenged ourselves,” said Max Avent, the elder of Word’s community division. “We realize that everyone hurting in the community is not a member of Word Tabernacle Church, however, this tragedy ties us together.”