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Church members making progress after truck crashes through cemetery

Published: Jul. 21, 2016 at 8:32 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2016 at 8:33 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - In Lexington County, members of a church community are making progress to restore a church cemetery damaged by an out-of-control truck.

The crash happened three weeks ago at Shiloh United Methodist Church on Gardners Terrace Road when the truck smashed through a fence and mowed down grave markers.

But some work has been done to smooth over damage to the headstones knocked down by the truck.

RELATED: See photos of the damage caused by the crashed truck.

Investigators say Joseph Allen Thomas, 44, was behind the wheel of a Ford F-150 pickup that traveled out of a driveway to an air conditioning repair company across the road and straight into the cemetery fence.

Of course, the truck began hitting markers and memorials, knocking them down and also breaking some. That continued until the pickup reached the other side of the cemetery, smashing through a chain link fence and finally hitting a tree before stopping.

Deputies say Thomas was under the influence, had a suspended license, and did not have permission to use the truck. An officer says Thomas also told him and others that he was "trying to get to heaven." For now, he's in jail.

As you can imagine, this was tough on families who have loved ones buried at the cemetery. Bonnie Dunford had just laid her mother to rest in February

"It hurt. It hurt real bad," Dunford said. "It brought out all the emotions all over again. I worry about my dad because he visits here every day. And normally he parks right there. I mean it happened 30 minutes after he left that day."

Dunford and her father say over the past couple of days, someone, possibly a group of people worked to reposition some of the headstones including theirs and clean up some of the wreckage.

The family members aren't sure who's been helping out. Meanwhile, Thomas remains in the Lexington County Detention Center. The jail website indicates Thomas has a court date scheduled for August 11.

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