Son of minister killed in wreck focuses on forgiving

Posted Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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It was almost Father’s Day when Evan Jennings’ father stopped to help a woman whose car had broken down on a dark two-lane road in southern Tarrant County.

Brian Jennings, also known as B.J., was returning home after a party for Evan, who just graduated from Burleson’s Centennial High School.

“What I’ve felt since that night is sadness, anger and confusion,” Evan Jennings said Tuesday at a news conference at Alsbury Baptist Church, where his father was on the staff.

“I also felt scared about the future.”

Brian Jennings and three other people were killed in a multi-vehicle crash late Saturday night that Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department investigators are still trying to sort out. His funeral is today.

Nine people were injured in the crashes that occurred about 11:45 p.m. in the 1500 block of Burleson-Retta Road.

Authorities have identified the others killed as Breanna Mitchell, 24, the stranded motorist, and Hollie Boyles, 52, and her daughter, Shelby Boyles, 21, who left their home nearby to help Mitchell.

Also involved in the crash were a pickup with a 16-year-old driver and seven passengers; and a Volkswagen with an 18-year-old driver and one passenger.

On Monday, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in Austin confirmed that agents would investigate to learn if anyone involved might have been served alcohol illegally.

Studying ‘forgiveness’

“When I came home Sunday and turned on my dad’s iPad, the first screen that came up was his study notes for our youth group,” Evan Jennings said. “The topic written in big, bold letters was ‘Forgiveness.’ ”

Evan Jennings, 19, said his father, 41, was a native of Burleson who spent his career in the ministry. Brian Jennings and his wife, Shauna, also had two other children — son Micah and daughter Abby.

The father’s most important personal characteristic was how much he cared for the young people of their church, his son said. Many have approached the family to tell them how Brian Jennings loved them through tough times, Evan Jennings said.

His father and his younger brother didn’t mind being the center of attention, Evan Jennings said.

“They never met a stage they wouldn’t get on, a microphone they wouldn’t talk, sing, rap or just make noises on,” Evan Jennings said.

“I also got my weird sense of humor from him,” he said. “Last week during our family trip to Sea World, he came up to me in a souvenir shop with one of those skin-tight Mexican wrestler masks, and with a serious look on his face, said ‘If you only buy one thing while we’re here, buy this.’

“I did.”

His father was best friend, mentor and “my example of the man I want to become,” Evan Jennings said.

“He loved his kids and was never afraid to tell us so,” he said. “My dad loved my mom with all his heart. My mom said that my dad wasn’t perfect, but he was perfect for us.”

Evan Jennings indicated that he believed his father’s death “was a result of the actions and decisions of others.”

Also, he said, “We serve a God of forgiveness and love, and that’s where our hearts are.”

Evan teared up after mentioning forgiveness.

“This is a struggle for us,” he said after a pause.

“But,” he said later, “feelings come and go and I know God has a greater plan than us.”

He said his family will focus on God, “stay true” and “I know I’ll be able to overcome.”

Bill Miller, 817-390-7684 Twitter: @Bill_MillerST

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