Friends, family give thanks for the lives of SUV crash victims

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Micah Waycaster By Jim Carr Micah Waycaster By Jim Carr

CROWN KING -- We're learning more about the four churchgoers who died when their SUV rolled down a cliff near Crown King Wednesday.

The SUV belonged to the school principal at Northwest Valley Baptist Church – Kevin Waycaster. His 16-year-old son Micah was driving the vehicle when it rolled, along with two other men. None of them survived.

“He wore a lot of hats here,” Pastor Kevin Schaal said about longtime friend and coworker Kevin Waycaster. “Kevin has been a friend of mine for 15 years, a dear close friend. We're not just coworkers, but deep, deep, close friends, and so it's a great loss.”

Schaal was actually with Waycaster, caravanning behind him in a different vehicle Wednesday. They were four-wheeling through the terrain on their way to Crown King when Waycaster's SUV went off the dirt road and fell about 100 feet.

“They had gotten a little but ahead of us, so no one really saw exactly what happened,” Schaal said. “The car rolled over the edge of the embankment.”

Waycaster, his 16-year-old son Micah, 67-year-old Gary Schneider and Robert Fisher, believed to be in his 70s, all died in the crash. All of them, including their families, go to Pastor Schaal's church.

“They're grieving, they're hurting, they're mourning the loss,” Schaal said. “They're in a little bit of shock and we're helping them.”

While most of us are giving thanks for the meal in front of us, Schaal and those who knew these crash victims are giving thanks for having known them.

‘We're thankful for the gift of these people and their lives and how precious they were to us,” Schaal said, “and we give thanks that they're in heaven.”

Because of where the SUV crashed, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office is having a hard time getting to it to recover the bodies. One of the occupants was thrown from the car.

YCSO said their preliminary report indicates driver inexperience and error on a primitive road was a casual factor in the accident.

At this time no funeral services have been set up, although if you'd like to send gifts or flowers the families have asked you send them to Northwest Valley Baptist Church.

The investigation into the accident continues.