A church on Cherry Lake Road that was the scene of a violent fatal crash Monday night has been declared unsafe by Sumter County building officials.
The True Temple Church of the Living God, located just outside The Villages, was heavily damaged at about 8:15 p.m. when a pickup truck driven by 21-year-old Leesburg resident Dallas Clark flipped several times and slammed into the main building. Clark died at the scene and the impact left a gaping hole in the church’s concrete block wall.
The day after the incident, Nehemiah Wolfe, who serves as head of Community Watch in The Villages, reached out to Sumter County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Siemer, district commander for The Villages, and told him the church needed assistance in boarding up the hole left by crash.
They went to a nearby construction site and after explaining the situation, came away with a short-term solution for the church. WPDC Construction offered to donate the supplies to patch the hole, while crews from Dewitt Custom Concrete, Adriano GB Brick Pavers and Bergeron Framing also donated their time and materials to help with the project.
But on Thursday the notice on the door made it clear that church members couldn’t use the building until more extensive repairs are completed. Outside the damaged structure and just in front of the Elder Mary Newsom Hudson Church Fellowship Hall, a makeshift memorial had been put into place paying homage to Clark, a 2018 graduate of Leesburg High School who played football for the Yellow Jackets.
Many of his friends and family members took to Facebook after the crash to share fond memories of the former center and nose guard who also served as a Florida Department of Corrections officer.