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Pastor and wife speak out after 8-year-old daughter killed in crash, another fighting for her life

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The story of Kansas City pastor Jason Johns and his family has been sparking an outpouring of love from the community.

It’s been two weeks since Jason and his three kids were sideswiped on the way to school. A few days after the crash, eight-year-old Elise Johns passed away. Now, we’re hearing from the pastor and his wife for the first time.

“We had just gone on a daddy-daughter date. So that’s hard to process…that we’re not going to have that with her, you know,” said Jason Johns.

5-year-old Hope and 8-year-old Elise

Jason Johns still has physical scarring from an August 23rd crash at Gregory and Paseo, but the emotional wounds are much deeper.

While driving his three kids to school, another car slammed into them, pushing their pick-up into a light pole. Jason got banged up and had an injured spleen. Kaden, 10, broke his wrist. But his sisters were not so lucky. A few days after the crash, eight-year-old Elise died.

“It’s been hard to wrap my brain logically around the fact that I’m never going to see my daughter again,” said Jason Johns.

While the prognosis for their five-year-old little girl was also grim, she’s been living up to her name, offering Hope for miracles. Hope has gained some movement in her toes, has a lot of upper body strength, and is already talking despite a tracheotomy and breathing tube.

“She’s a tough little girl, just like her mom. We’re so proud of her. She’s fighting hard,” said Jason Johns.

And what has propelled this family is an immense amount of support from cards and balloons to over $150,000 in donations and a ton of prayers.

“We have felt, in this time, just an overwhelming sense of support where we just feel like the city has embraced us in its arms and said, ‘Man. We got you. You’ve laid down your life to love the least of these, the broken hearted, and we believe in you.’ And that means more than I could say,” Jason John said.

Their deep faith is not just helping them press on, but it is also inspiring others.

“There is nothing more devastating to a mom than the loss of a child, and the only thing that’s going to fill that is Jesus,” said Sarah Johns.

“In a time where darkness and hatred have been amplified in our country, you guys have let a story of love and hope and unity shine,” Jason Johns said.

It is a light they believe can keep shining if we all focus on doing a little more good.

“I don’t want it to begin at tragedy. We can do this as a sustainable way of life if we get our eyes off of ourselves once in a while,” said Jason Johns.

If you’d like to help or follow the family’s journey, they’ve got a new Facebook page called “Johns Family Love Story”. You can also find links on that page of how to pledge donations to them.

As for the driver who hit the Johns family in the crash, police say accident investigators are still working the case and evidence will soon be turned over to the prosecutor’s office for review.