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Taylor University Observance of 2006 Crash is Next Week

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Cross memorial for 2006 van accident

Taylor University has planned a series of private and public events next week in observance of the 10-year anniversary of a highway accident that claimed the lives of five members of the Taylor community.

The crash happened shortly after 8 pm, April 26, 2006, when a northbound semitrailer rig crossed the median on I-69 and struck a southbound Taylor-owned van, which was returning to Upland from Taylor’s former campus in Fort Wayne.

Taylor students Laurel Erb, Brad Larson, Betsy Smith, and Laura Van Ryn, as well as Taylor dining services staff member Monica Felver died in the accident. The crash later drew international attention when it was discovered that the identities of Van Ryn and one of the survivors, fellow student Whitney (Cerak) Wheeler, had been inadvertently switched. Wheeler later recovered from her injuries and returned to the Taylor campus, graduating in 2009. She, her family, and the Van Ryn family later co-authored a book about their experience, Mistaken Identity. Wheeler is now the married mother of three children.

According to Taylor officials, a number of family members plan to attend the events. Three public worship services are scheduled. 

Monday, April 25, 10 am, Rediger Chapel/Auditorium

Chapel with family members, Taylor administrators


Tuesday, April 26, 4:30 pm, Memorial Prayer Chapel

Service of Remembrance and Hope with Dr. Eugene B. Habecker, President


Wednesday, April 27, 10 am, Rediger Chapel/Auditorium

Chapel with Whitney Wheeler