by Bob Allen
February 20, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (ABP) -- An Ash Wednesday car/deer crash killed a pastor's daughter and united a Baptist church in grief.
Emmie Cecelia Mears Webb was wearing ashes on her forehead applied earlier in the evening of Feb. 17 by her mother, Amy Mears, co-pastor of Glendale Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., when a deer crashed through the windshield and fatally injured her as she sat between two siblings in the back seat of a sedan driven by her father.
Emmie, 8, died at the scene. Her father, David Webb, 47, two sisters and a brother were treated for injuries at local hospitals and released. Police arrived on the scene to find the deer, which ran in front of the car just before the collision, dead inside the vehicle. No other contributing factors were cited.
(left) Maurgea Albert-Adams writes a memory of Emmie Mears Webb on paper posted on walls of the fellowship hall at Glendale Baptist Church.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 150 humans die each year in car accidents with deer. Annually there are about 1.5 million vehicle accidents involving deer, injuring 10,000 Americans and causing $1 billion in property damage.
"What meaning can we make of this death?, we ask ourselves, and the answer comes, there's no sense in any of this and no meaning to be found," co-pastor April Baker told worshipers at a standing-room-only memorial service at Glendale Baptist Church Feb. 20.
Friends and family members remembered Emmie as a cheerful child who loved people, climbing, banana popsicles and animals -- especially zebras. "I think she would forgive the deer," her sister Mia said, in written memories read at the funeral.
"We didn't have enough of what she had to give, because there's no such thing as too much kindness, too much goodness, too much love, too much joy," Baker said.
Emmie is survived by her parents, Amy Mears and David Webb; two sisters, Lara and Mia; brother, Danny; grandparents, Ted and Betty Mears, Barbara and Billy Webb; uncles and aunts, David Mears, Joel and Beth Mears, Andy Webb, Matt and Dawn Webb; and 10 cousins.
Emmie was born on June 1, 2001. She was a third grader at Glendale Spanish Immersion Elementary School, a piano student and an enthusiastic soccer player. Her teammates attended the memorial service wearing their team jerseys. Her favorite day of the week was Wednesday, because she liked to go to church and sometimes got to stay over with friends after school.
"This is truly a life to celebrate and a death to grieve," Baker said. "We have said over and over and over in the last few days that we will get through this by holding on to one another and holding on tight. Maybe there's nothing more to say than that. There's nothing that's going to make this right."
"Hold tight to one another," Baker advised Emmie's friends and family. "Tell stories. Laugh and cry. Emmie is truly one of God's favorites."
In lieu of flowers, the family suggested that memorial gifts be given in Emmie's memory to Ring Lake Ranch, a religious retreat center in Wyoming that Emmie loved, for care and nurture of horses on the ranch.
Glendale Baptist Church is a BPFNA Partner Congregation and is affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Alliance of Baptists.
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.