- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A popular Omaha minister who founded a nonprofit organization devoted to giving hope to inner city teens was among four people killed in a fiery head-on crash on Interstate 90 near Alexandria, authorities said Friday.

Tyler Schenzel, 54, served as an associate pastor and youth pastor at Omaha’s Waypoint Church and founded the Hope Center for Kids with his wife, Theresa Schenzel, 59.

“Their mission is helping people find hope in their lives when hope was lost,” said Silas West, Waypoint’s executive pastor. “That’s how they lived. That’s the message on their hearts.”

The Schenzels and another couple had set out on a road trip to see Mount Rushmore when a pickup truck heading the wrong way in Interstate 90’s westbound lanes struck their vehicle head on about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, according to the South Dakota Highway Patrol. Both vehicles burst into flames. Investigators couldn’t identify the make or model of the westbound vehicle due to the severity of the wreckage.

The crash killed the pickup truck driver, 75-year-old David Wise, of Salem, the Schenzels and the westbound vehicle’s driver, 28-year-old Ryan Hrubes, of Omaha.

Another passenger in the vehicle traveling from Omaha, 26-year-old Emily Hrubes, was injured. The Highway Patrol said her injuries were serious but not life threatening.

The afternoon crash brought traffic on the interstate to a standstill, and officers diverted traffic onto state Highway 38. Debris from the crash struck a westbound SUV, but its two occupants were not injured.

The Hope Center for Kids, a nonprofit organization devoted to inspiring hope in youth and children through education, employability, collaboration and faith, said its locations in Omaha and Freemont remained open for youth and children members on Friday. It released a statement calling the Schenzels beloved and integral members who will be deeply missed.

“We are saddened beyond belief by this news and our prayers are with their families and the families of the other couple involved Ryan and Emily Hrubes, as well as the driver of the other vehicle,” the statement said.

Silas said that Ty Schenzel left the Hope Center he founded in May. He had been on staff at Waypoint for about two years but was integral in helping the church’s launch in 2007 in the role of an overseer. West said Schenzel’s titles of associate pastor and youth pastor fail to convey how much he was valued at Waypoint and throughout the city.

“He was so much more than that here in Omaha and to our church,” West said.

An evening gathering was being planned at Waypoint Church to provide prayers and comfort to friends of the families.

___

Follow Dirk Lammers on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ddlammers

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