Mark McDaniel, the senior pastor at New Hope Community Church in Venus, Texas, has spoken out after his wife, Brandi and daughter, Hannah, were killed in a car crash on Saturday.
The father of three said the tragic incident occurred after he blacked out during a coughing fit while driving some of his family home from a high school basketball game.
"I was driving ... and I was overcome by coughing, and I blacked out," McDaniel said in an interview. "We hit the guardrail."
A preliminary investigation report confirmed that the guardrail entered their 2023 Honda, injuring everyone in the car. On waking up and finding no response from his daughter, McDaniel said: "I was asking [Hannah] to wake up … and … when she didn’t, obviously I knew and that’s when my heart died."
McDaniel spoke of his adopted daughter who died at the crash scene as being "the centre of my universe."
Speaking about her adoption, he said: “From the moment I held her…I knew I had become a father”.
He spoke fondly of his wife Brandi, who he said loved the Lord and her job teaching children with autism.
“She was the best mother that I ever knew...now she is with the Lord along with Hannah" he said.
Pastor McDaniel added that it’s only the hope of reuniting with them one day that is keeping him going.
“That’s what I’ve got now, without there being heaven, without there being hope, where would people be?"
On Monday, Pantego Christian Academy where Hannah was a student athlete remembered her as a “beloved member of our school community.” They released a statement saying, “Today we came together to honour Hannah...Hannah was more than just a student; she was a friend, a classmate, a teammate and a source of inspiration to those around her...Hannah overflowed with JOY every day.”