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Eddie James preparing to ‘invade’ Punxsy

August 28, 2012

Eddie James Ministries will be in concert at 7 p.m. Friday at Barclay Square and is being sponsored to honor the three teens who were killed in an auto accident last November. Shown (from left): Mercy Smith (front); Carly Santik; Mollie Smith; Drinda Smith; Amanda Smith and Caley Burkett. (Photo by Larry McGuire of The Punxsutawney Spirit)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — A grieving family and community will rally around a special concert to be held Friday evening in Barclay Square.

Eddie James Ministries team will be performing, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday in Barclay Square to honor the three teens who were killed in an automobile accident last fall.

Drinda Smith, the mother of one of the teens that was killed in the crash, said there's a conflict with the Brookville and Punxsutawney high school football game that is scheduled for 7 p.m Friday.

"We are aware of the conflict and ask that students and parents come over to Barclay Square for the concert once the game is concluded," she said.

Smith said Eddie James Ministries was founded in 1993 and travels with about 35 young adults ministering through drama and music.

She said they've traveled throughout America, Europe and Japan. Smith said all high school and college age youth are invited for an evening of dance, drama, rap, worship and testimonies.

"On Nov. 10, 2011, on a Thursday, a group of us were praying that God would start moving in this region and turn people towards God," Smith said, adding that it was early Saturday, Nov. 12 when she heard her son Joel Riggleman had been killed in a car accident.

A single-car crash on Route 839 in Wayne Township killed three young men and left a fourth in critical condition that Friday night.

All four people in the vehicle were ejected, police said.

The crash scene was about one mile outside of Dayton.

The people who died were identified as Sean McConnaughey, 18, Dylan Behrendt, 19, and Joel Riggleman, 19, all of Punxsutawney.

The fourth man, Blair Smith, 19, was taken to Allegheny General Hospital.

"Eleven can stand for the end, but it also can be considered a new beginning," she said. "We think of the boys being in heaven enjoying eternal life."

Smith said ever since the accident, a group of people get together to pray on Thursday nights and hold Bible studies and a time of worship at her home located right past Smith Auto Body on the Indiana Hill.

"One thing that teens need to understand is that one bad decision can change your life forever," Smith said.

She said a friend of her's had seen Eddie James perform down in Texas and gave great reviews on him and his ministry, and the friend said it would be something that would appeal to area youth.

Adults are also invited to participate in the night of worship at the park, she said.

Smith said some days she wakes up, and she still can't believe that this really happened, thinking that Joel is still alive.

"It is a parent's worse nightmare to wake up in the middle of the night with the police banging on your door with the worst news ever: that your child is dead," Smith said.

Despite the bad news, though, Smith and the family press on to try to make a difference in the aftermath of her son's death.

In case of rain, the concert will be held in the Punxsutawney Area Middle school.

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