Man charged with reckless homicide in crash that killed pastor

Pastor Aaron Strong of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who was killed on Oct. 12, 2022, when a driver ran a red light. | Screengrab: YouTube/Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church

A 22-year-old man has been charged with second-degree reckless homicide after he drove through a red light and crashed into Wisconsin Pastor Aaron Strong who was driving to work. 

The suspect, identified as Jose Silva, plowed into the vehicle of the 40-year-old pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church of Milwaukee Wednesday morning, prosecutors said Friday, according to Fox 6.

The pastor later died at a local hospital, and an autopsy suggested he died from multiple blunt-force injuries.

Authorities estimate Silva was speeding at 74 mph just before the accident, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said. He told police he was running late for jury duty at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Surveillance from Marquette University showed Silva’s car speeding prior to the crash, according to the complaint, which also said he didn’t apply the brakes until two seconds before the crash.  The video also showed the car running a red light while driving the wrong way, it says.

Grace Evangelical Lutheran announced Strong’s death on the church’s Facebook page that evening, asking people to “keep Abbie Strong and their children, Hannah and Elijah, in your prayers.”

“Like Job, the question ‘Why?’ troubles all of us regarding this tragedy. Like Job, we are reminded that our majestic God does not always provide an answer to that question. But what brings us everlasting comfort is that God’s mercy shines as bright as his majesty,” stated the church.

The Rev. Brian Hackmann, an outreach pastor at Grace, remembered Pastor Strong as “a person that was full of joy.”

“He was full of life,” Hackman was quoted as saying. “He had a smile on his face, an infectious laugh. He was a person that was pretty easy to get along with. … He had the love of Jesus in his heart in a big way.”

Strong preached his final sermon last Sunday, titling it “The Gift That Keeps on Giving” and focused his remarks on 2 Corinthians 9:10-15.

“We are less than 80 days away from Christmas,” he preached at the time. “Thirty percent of Americans will start their Christmas shopping during this month.”

“Whenever you start, maybe you’ll want to start thinking about a gift that maybe is long-lasting, something that is a gift that keeps on giving.”

“The Apostle Paul gives us a far greater gift in our reading today from 2nd Corinthians Chapter 9. A gift that truly is one that keeps on giving,” he added.

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