Local pastor, teacher ID’d as victim in crash involving passed school bus

Local teacher killed in serious crash

YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - The man killed in a head-on crash involving three vehicles Tuesday morning in York County has been identified as 45-year-old John O’Kain.

The crash happened at 6:21 a.m. on Highway 49 near Branch Road about 1.7 miles north of the city of York, according to South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Troopers say a man driving a pick-up truck was passing a school bus when he hit O’Kain’s Toyota sedan head-on. O’Kaine was killed, the driver of the pick-up truck was taken to the hospital.

Wednesday, WBTV learned O’Kain was a well-known pastor and teacher in York County. Reverend Douglass Key of Clover Presbyterian Church says O’Kain was the choir director at their church and was in his first year teaching at York Comprehensive High School. Key says O’Kain was on his way to teach at YCHS when the deadly crash happened.

“Just a regular drive to work, that he had made every day since the fall,” Key said.

Key met O’Kain 14 years ago when he was a youth minister in Lake Wylie. O’Kaine later served as the Campus Minister at Winthrop University. For the last four years he has served as the choir director at Clover Presbyterian Church.

“He was a supremely gifted musician in a variety of styles,” Reverend Key said.

According to a spokesperson at Winthrop University, O’Kain graduated with his masters in teaching from Winthrop University in 2018. According to Key, he had just started teaching science at YCHS in the fall.

“I think being a teacher allowed him to be such a big influence on young people’s lives,” Key said.

Reverend Sam McGregor of Allison Creek Presbyterian Church also knew O’Kain from his work in several community ministries.

“He wanted you in his presence and that’s such a unique and special gift that John had,” McGregor said.

John is seen wearing a red jacket in the Stations of the Cross photo from 2012. The ceremony was held on Good Friday and was sponsored by Campus Ministries, Winthrop says.
John is seen wearing a red jacket in the Stations of the Cross photo from 2012. The ceremony was held on Good Friday and was sponsored by Campus Ministries, Winthrop says. (Source: Winthrop University)

He leaves behind a wife and two sons ages 2 and 4. McGregor and Key wanted to publicly speak about O’Kain’s life so that his boys knew how much of an impact their father had on the community.

“He still had youth groups from when he was a seminary intern some-20 years ago reach out to him. They just felt safe with him. They felt heard by him. He was that kind of welcoming, gentle, jovial, gifted person that you just don’t come across in life all the time,”Key said.

His presence will be missed by those who knew him, but McGregor says they have comfort in knowing that he is with God.

“He is surrounded by God’s loving arms and is being reassured that his family will be okay,” McGregor said.

SCHP is investigating the crash that killed O’Kain. It is unclear if anyone will face any charges at this time.

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