As hundreds of people gathered for a funeral in a small Randolph County church Friday afternoon, a portion of the floor collapsed. Five people were taken to the hospital for treatment, but all were released with only minor injuries.
Witnesses say about 300 people were inside the Virgil Chapel Baptist Church preparing for the Minnie Jackson funeral, when they heard a loud bang.
Church member Julia Williams said "All of the sudden I heard a noise. Then some of the people started to fall. We heard screams and a lot of the people got really upset I'm sure."
The 144 year old church building floor joists apparently broke under the weight. The floor fell about ten feet, and about ten pews sagged down into the hole, along with the people sitting on them.
Church secretary Minnie Lewis said "Just a lot of loud noises. And everybody was just moving slowly. Trying to get out of the way. And the people down in the hole, they were trying to get out."
Hearing that people were hurt, law enforcement and first responders from three counties rushed to give aid.
Randolph County Sheriff Gary Yochum said "We had a real good response. Ambulance service from Randolph County, Stewart County, Quitman County, all responded."
Members of this close church worked together to help the hurt. They left the building quickly, because the part of the floor that collapsed was near the propane tank, but there was no leak.
Lewis said "It was orderly. It was really orderly."
Reverend Willie Ross said "Very frightening. Very frightening. But God is able. He took care of us all, and saw us safely out."
The building is locked now, and will need work to repair the floor, but it will not stop Sunday services.
Ross said "Going to move to another church and continue to praise God. And thank him for what he is going to do in advance."
All five people transported to the hospital were treated and released with just minor cuts and bruises.
After taking care of the hurt people, the funeral for Minnie Jackson was moved to the J.B. Smith School, where the service was held.
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