‘A great man’ – Family remembers Wake County pastor killed after car crashed into restaurant

North Carolina

PITTSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – Amazing, wonderful, and hardworking are three words loved ones use to describe Pastor Mark McKinney. The 64-year-old died after a car crashed into Johnson’s Drive-In restaurant in Siler City on Friday. Three others were injured.

McKinney was the Senior Pastor at New Life Church in Morrisville for 23 years. He and his wife Dee McKinney came to North Carolina and started the church. McKinney’s a father of two, grandfather of four, and a husband to Dee for 41 years.

“When a police car pulls up in your driveway, you know right away this is not good news,” Dee McKinney said. “So, they pulled up into the driveway and told me what happened. I started shaking, and crying, and then I started recovering.”

She said recovery means taking things one step at a time — a grieving process learned after losing her first husband in a motorcycle accident. McKinney’s family described him as hardworking but always putting people first.

His son, Matthew McKinney, said his father’s motto of “people over projects” is something he will continue to represent.

“My dad never had tunnel vision when he walked into a room, as in he was never so focused on something that he had to do that he wouldn’t stop and give a hug, give a smile, ask people how they were doing,” Matthew McKinney said.

McKinney traveled the world teaching the bible. His wife received condolences from as far as Croatia.

“I cannot tell you how encouraging it is to see the impact that Mark McKinney made on the world for the sake of the gospel,” Dee McKinney said.

One of his greatest loves was being a grandpa and simply making people laugh. His family said they will use laughter, rather than tears, to help them through these hard times.

McKinney is leaving her husband’s favorite chair open, and his bibles untouched nearby, as a way to heal.

“He was a great man — still is, he just lives in a different place,” Dee McKinney said.

There will be a memorial service at the church this Saturday at 1 p.m. to celebrate his life. It will also be live-streamed on the church’s Facebook page. Dee is now the Senior Pastor at the church.

The restaurant said it hopes to open next week. It is looking to do improvements to make people feel safer. Driver John Graviano faces multiple charges, including misdemeanor death by a vehicle, according to police.

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