Man arrested for causing car accident that killed United Methodist bishop

John Yambasu
United Methodist Church Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone gives the sermon during morning worship on UMC General Conference in Portland, Oregon, on May 19, 2016. |

A man suspected of having killed an African United Methodist Church bishop in a car accident has been arrested by Sierra Leone police and charged with multiple counts.

Last month, Sierra Leone Area Bishop John K. Yambasu was on his way to preach at a funeral for a former district superintendent when the driver of an SUV struck him. 

Mohamed Allie Saw was arrested after fleeing the scene and was charged with seven counts earlier this month, including speeding and driving without due care and attention.

Saw was driving a vehicle owned by another individual to a garage when he lost control of the vehicle and fatally injured Yambasu, according to UM News

“By the time we cleared the traffic and safely packed the vehicles from off the road, the driver had disappeared,” said Mbalu Kabbah, traffic commander for the Calaba Town Police, as quoted by UM News.

“We first detained the owner of the vehicle when the driver could not be located. We released him after his blood pressure shot up.”

From there, family members of the owner of the SUV searched for and located Saw, who had been uninjured in the crash, and was handed over to police.

A native of Sierra Leone, Yambasu was elected as a bishop of the UMC in 2008. He was killed in the accident days before he was to turn 64, and was survived by his wife and their five children.

UMC Bishop Samuel Quire of the Liberia Episcopal Area said in a statement last month that Yambasu’s death was “a great blow to the people called United Methodists.”

“It is our hope and prayers that God will comfort the family in particular and The United Methodist family at large. May his soul rest in perfect peace,” said Bishop Quire.

During the debate within the UMC over LGBT issues, Yambasu was a theological conservative who called on the denomination to retain its official biblical position that homosexuality is sinful.

More recently, Yambasu was integral to bringing together a theologically diverse group of United Methodists to craft an amicable separation plan for the denomination.

Known as the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation,” the proposal would provide $25 million to conservative Methodists to create their own denomination.

“The United Methodist Church and its members aspire to multiply the Methodist mission in the world by restructuring the Church through respectful and dignified separation,” read the protocol, which Yambasu signed with several other UMC leaders.

“The undersigned agree to use their best efforts to persuade any groups or organizations with which they are affiliated to support the legislation necessary to implement the Protocol."  

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