Surveillance video captures moment of church steeple falling

Published: Aug. 6, 2018 at 4:00 PM EDT
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Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018

News 12 at 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Vance Wall witnessed the moment the steeple at Langley Baptist Church fell over. "When it happened, I mean, everybody was like, 'there goes the steeple!' and everyone is just shocked,” he said.

Vance Wall owns the drug store right across the street from Langley Baptist Church. He said the storm that hit them Monday was one of the strongest he's seen.

"So as the rain got more intense and as the wind became stronger we started watching what was outside and first noticed our sign, and the sign was starting to bend a little bit," he said.

Even on a metal pole when Vance looked across the street the church steeple was not holding up so well.

"We started noticing that the steeple on the church was starting to move,” Vance said.

Not only did he see it, but this camera captured every moment of the steeple crashing down.

“And then as the wind got underneath the steeple it actually lifted it up and it fell over on the other side of the church."

Vance says it was like a sign from above.

"It was almost as if they needed to have it replace."

The church says the bell was holding on by the rope used to ring it. If it weren't for the knots, the damage this heavy bell could have caused is even scary to think about.

"It was kind of amazing that something like that happened,” Vance said.

The church is thankful no one was hurt, and their irreplaceable stained glass windows were untouched.

"It could have caused significant damage to the church and also bodily injury or even death so I mean, it was very very fortunate," he said.

Adjusters with the insurance company came out to take a look at the damage this morning. The church is getting estimates together now to move this process along and get a new and improved steeple.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

(News 12 First at 5 / News 12 at 6 O’Clock / NBC 26 at 7)

LANGLEY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) – The steeple fell hard off the top of Langley First Baptist Church Monday, but it was close to causing a lot more damage than it did.

Pam Smith works at the church, and she knew she needed to close up shop early on that stormy night.

“When the power flickered off I thought to myself, ‘well this is fixin’ to be bad’,” said Pam about the storm that blew through Augusta Road Monday night.

Pam told News 12 she went to her car, which parked next to the church, and left just before the steeple came crashing down.

Where it fell was exactly where her car was sitting just minutes before.

“When I got to the red light. That’s when I heard the really loud crash of thunder, I said ‘wow that was close’.”

Close is right. Pam received a phone call from her husband just minutes later breaking the news of what happened at the church.

If Pam had still been sitting in her office she would have had a very different story to tell.

“Looks like it was just picked up and set down to me.”

The foundation of the base of the steeple now sits just inches away from the window just next to her office. Pam says she feels blessed.

"I just kept saying "Oh my God!" because he protected not only me--but everyone in this community."

Not long after the steeple fell, plenty of people were crowding around the church.

"It didn't take them long to get the word around," said Wayne Hadden, who works at a business just across the street from Langley First Baptist.

Hadden was the first one to see the damage from his business across the street. He called the members of the church.

"I said the good Lord couldn't have laid it down any better than how he laid it down."

Pam agrees. None of the church's education building, or its priceless stained glass windows, were damaged.

"I think it was a big miracle."

Now the church is waiting on its insurance team to come in from out of town and assess the damage before they can clean up. They have some roof and brick damage.

Pam says she's already received several calls from other churches and neighbors who have donated to help support this cleanup and restoration. They say any donations are appreciated.

But they also tell News 12 they've got all the coverage they need already from the powers on high.

Monday, August 6, 2018

News 12 at 11

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Pastor Ken Klingler is showing grace through the what could be considered a devastating situation.

"Bad things even happen to Baptists sometimes," he said with a lighthearted laugh.

Langley First Baptist church endured quite a storm.

"I haven't seen anything like this. I was quite surprised to see where the steeple was."

Pastor Ken Klingler says the high winds ripped their steeple right off. The big miracle is where it landed.

"It's over here, of course, tucked away between buildings and we didn't put it there, that's where the heavenly father put it," he said.

Smack-dab in the middle of the church and educational building. Leaving behind only minor damage to the roof and leaving all their beautiful stained glass untouched.

"No glass was broken. It's just an absolute, amazing thing that's happened," said Pastor Klingler.

Even though the steeple came off, the bell, all 700 pounds of it, stayed put. They used a crane to move the bell over the hold so rain couldn't get in.

No one was hurt, but Pastor Klingler says it could have been a different scenario if it happened just a little earlier.

"We're thankful nobody was injured. The church secretary had just left to go to the post office, about maybe 10 minutes before it happened," he said.

For now, they're leaning on the Lord and their insurance company to provide.

"The church is confident that things are going to move ahead," Pastor Klingler said.

Pastor Klingler hopes a new one will take this one's place. He says it could take a few days to move the steeple because of insurance purposes.

6:02 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Aiken officials were called out to the Langley First Baptist Church after winds were said to have blown over the steeple.

The steeple was believed to have toppled over around 2:30 p.m.

A crane was brought to the scene. Officials used the crane to cover the hole where the bell sits.

Plans are still being made to safely remove the bell and the steeple.

We will continue to look into this developing story.

6:02 p.m.

LANGLEY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A storm has caused the steeple at Langley First Baptist Church to fall off the building.

It happened Monday afternoon amid storms in the area.

An employee at a business across the street from the church confirms they saw the steeple fall, but it's unclear what caused it to topple.

We have a crew headed to the scene.