HOUSTON, Texas — The sanctuary at The Church at Bethel’s Family won’t be the same this Sunday now that longtime choir director and gospel singer LaTonya Earl’s voice has been silenced.
"When she sang, you felt it,” said Pastor Walter August, Jr.
August showed us “Sister Earl’s” office down a hall from his and said he got word of her death from her husband.
"In this church, we have every generation alive, from the people in their 90s to the little babies," said August. "And her music touched all generations.”
Earl was killed in a head-on collision along Old Humble Road after investigators say another driver lost control after running over some wet cement that had just spilled from a truck.
That car then jumped the median and struck Earl's vehicle.
Earl and the other driver, identified as 19 year-old Selvin Palacios, died at the scene.
“Jesus Is The Light,” said church receptionist Betty Peacock.
Peacock easily recalled the song she’ll miss hearing Earl sing the most and started fielding calls about the sudden loss first thing Friday morning.
"Probably the first 15 minutes I got at least 10 to 15 calls," said Peacock. "'Is it true, is it real?' "I had to say 'yes.'”
Pastor August predicted “Sister Earl’s” funeral will be the largest in the 25 year history of the 13,000 member church.
It's a place in which her presence will remain.
"We're not going to have her here in a physical way," said August. "But she is here, spiritually, and she will be felt on Sunday.”
We're told Earl leaves behind a husband and three children and had discussed renewing her vows on Valentine's Day.
The crash that caused her death remains under investigation.
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