S.A. pastor, wife die in crash; son injured
A San Antonio pastor and his wife were on a rare vacation with their son when the couple was killed last week in a headon collision on a remote West Texas highway.
Chengju Huo, 51, and his wife, Huixiang Zhang, 46, had been married for nearly 20 years, said fellow Methodist pastor John Lee, but saw each other only a few times a year.
“(Zhang) teaches school in Southern China and she would generally come over to the United States a couple of times a year on vacation,” Lee said Saturday. “In fact, they were on vacation when this accident happened. They were heading to Yellowstone.”
Huo and Zhang died Tuesday afternoon when their 2015 Ford Escape was hit by a 2018 Chevy Cruze that veered into their lane on Texas 158 near the small town of Ballinger, about 30 miles northwest of San Angelo. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Their son, 17-year-old David Newman Huo, was seriously injured and was taken to a hospital in San Angelo.
Lee, who has been staying with the younger Huo, said he is the couple’s only child.
“He sustained some serious injuries, but is expected to make a full recovery,” Lee said. “He had to have some surgery, but he’s responding well.”
Lee said the teen, who is about to be a senior at Alamo Heights High School, could return to San Antonio as early as Monday or Tuesday.
All three were wearing seat belts, according to state officials. Chengju Huo was driving the Escape.
The driver of the other vehicle, 22-year-old Taron Gipson of Calvert in Central Texas, was alone in his vehicle. He, too, died in the wreck. Gipson was southbound on Texas 158 when he veered off the highway and overcorrected as he tried to return to the road, officials said, pushing him into the other lane and head-on into Huo’s vehicle.
Gipson wasn’t wearing a seat belt and it wasn’t immediately known why he initially went off the road, officials said.
Huo became pastor of the Chinese United Methodist Church of San Antonio in July 2016, according to the church’s website, following Lee, who is now pastor of First United Methodist Church in Aransas Pass.
“I helped him get licensed (as a pastor) and we talked every couple of weeks or so,” Lee said, adding that Huo and his wife stayed with him in Aransas
Pass last year.
“We went fishing, catching red snapper,” Lee reminisced.
The church, located at 6487 Whitby on the Northwest Side, is part of Las Misiones District of the Rio Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church.
On Las Misiones District’s Facebook page, other friends and church members, including the Rev. Laura Merrill, assistant to the conference bishop, posted condolences.
“(Pastor Huo) was a friend, a good and thoughtful man, and a beloved pastor,” Mark Mitchell wrote. “I will miss him as will all of Las Misiones District.”
Staff Writers Fares Sabawi and S. M. Chavey contributed to this report.