SILVERTON, COLO. (KTRE) - A Garrison-area pastor and his brother-in-law have died and two other family members have been injured in an ATV wreck during a family vacation in Colorado Tuesday night.
Holly Springs Baptist Church Elder Chuck Howard confirmed Christopher Ryan King, 33, of Nacogdoches, and his brother-in-law, Bryson Kyle Adkison, 26, of Nacogdoches, died at the scene, which was on a mountain in Silverton, Colo.
Adkison's parents, Lanita Box Adkison, 51, of Garrison, and Gary Lynn Adkison, 53, of Garrison, were injured. Howard said Lanita Adkison's injuries are life-threatening and she is being treated at a Denver hospital. Gary Adkison's injuries are not life-threatening and he was being treated at a hospital in Durango but was later flown to the same hospital as his wife.
According to the San Juan County Sheriff's Office's Facebook page, Gary Adkison was driving the vehicle. It was having transmission problems, so he tried to coast down from Corkscrew Pass but the brakes failed before reaching County Road 110, causing it to leave the road and roll down a steep 75-foot embankment.
According to the Silverton Standard, the incident occurred on County Road 53, near a temporary water treatment plant operated by the EPA. The ATV tumbled down an embankment into Cement Creek. Howard said the family arrived in Colorado on Saturday and were going to return this week. The wives of King and Bryson Adkison were also on vacation and were at a campsite when the incident happened.
King was once a road manager for Power Team, a group of Christian evangelists who incorporate their preaching with feats of strength.
"He was a road member for a few years and then moved into the team," said Courtney Keene, the director of events for the Power Team. "He did all of the feats of strength. He spoke at schools. In the night time program he shared the gospel. He snapped baseball bats, ran through ice and bent steel bars."
"He was incredible in every area," Keene said. "A great dad and a great husband. A great man. you hate to say you have your favorites but he was one of our favorites. It is a tragic loss."
King was on the team under the direction of Todd Keene. Keene recalled the way King worked to get a spot on stage with the other strongman.
"His heart was to get from behind the stage, to be on it as he had a strong desire to share the gospel and help young people make better choices," Keene said. "The problem was that his physical size didn't really fit the mold of a Power Team athlete. His ability to communicate and his giant heart to help others forced us to change that mold to get him upfront where he could have the greatest impact. So we created a character called Bonzai. Kind of like the karate kid meets Power Team. Ryan performed many of our feats of strength, but really shined with his portrayal of the underdog who wanted to do all the feats no matter who was the biggest guy on stage. Once, unpronounced to his teammates, he broke a stack of boards on the stage and then quickly turned and leaped off the stage in a flying side kick into a baptismal pool that had been set up to the side of the stage. The team and the crowd roared cheerfully at his unscheduled improvise. The crowd loved it and he quickly became one of the most popular Power Team members in our 40 year history."
Bryson Adkison was a loved member of the community he called home from a young age. Garrison science teacher Leslie Nichols has known Adkison since he was a young child. She recalled he always had a positive outlook.
Bryson was one of those kids that was always smiling," Nichols said. "It didn't matter what was going on. The pit in my stomach that I felt when i got the call from my son a little after midnight is still there."
Nichols said Adkison and King were both a big part in the formation of her son's Christian walk and is grateful to the two and their families.
"I know they are in their heavenly home," Nichols said. "This one verse keeps sticking out in my head with them and it is 2 Timothy 4:7-8:
I fought the good fight. I finished the race. i kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge will award to me on that day.
Spence Peppard and his wife Misti feel close to the Adkison family and have watched Bryson grow up. the pair just saw him last week with his wife and daughter Kennedy.
"He is such a genuine guy," Spence said. "His father is a Godly businessman in town. We know his wife through going to church with them. Seeing them as parents and how they raised their kids and how their kids grew up to be Godly kids and adults says a lot about them."
The last week King preached at Holly Springs, a mother got to witness King share in a special moment with her children. Holly Goranson sat in the front of the church as her two children were baptized by King on the stage.
"It is hard knowing that they were the last he baptized," Goranson said. "My son had not been wanting to do it for a while but after camp he wanted to. My daughter had been talking about it but I wanted to make sure she was ready. Now knowing what we know, I am happy they got to do it together with Ryan. I just know now that the Lord had worked it out for them to be baptized the same day. For Ryan to be the one to baptize them."
And while the families are still trying to come to an understanding the community around Bryson and Ryan are also mourning.
"We grieve for them," Nichols said. "It will be a long time before this community gets over the loss that involved so many people in a family."
Despite the sadness Nichols and others are holding onto hope.
"Their family was grounded and rooted in Christ," Misti Peppard said. "More than anything, they showed that on a day to day basis. It was evident in every aspect of their lives."
The Holly Springs congregation held Wednesday night services as planned with a special prayer time for the family. The church asked for it to remain members and close friends as a way for them to grieve in private.