S.A. pas­tor, wife die in crash; son in­jured

San Antonio Express-News (Sunday) - - Metro - By Brian Con­tr­eras STAFF WRITER

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.

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