As relatives gather outside the home of Pastor Manard Giles, a long embrace helps absorb the shock of losing the father and grandfather they loved and admired.
The 77-year-old was killed early just before 3:30 a.m. Saturday following a wrong-way crash on the northbound 14 Freeway past Escondido Canyon Road.
According to the California Highway Patrol, a suspected drunk driver, later identified as Bradford Pate of Burbank, drove his Toyota Tundra south onto the northbound lanes. Pate's truck hit Gile's Chrysler 300 head-on and then rolled over and hit a Ford Econoline van with eight occupants.
Giles was pronounced dead at the scene. He was a pastor at The Answer Community Church of God in Christ in Lancaster.
His passenger, a 47-year-old Lancaster man, was airlifted to an area hospital in critical condition, the CHP said.
Another passenger, an unidentified woman, was transported to a Burbank hospital with major injuries.
The pastor and his two passengers were reportedly on their way back from a church event in San Diego.
"My father was taking some parishoners and members from the church home at 3 a.m. in the morning," said Benjamin Munnerlyn's, Giles' stepson. "A soldier on the battlefield, that's the only sense I can make out of it."
Three people inside the van reportedly suffered minor injuries.
The crash shut down all northbound lanes of the 14 Freeway approaching Escondido Canyon Road. All lanes were reopened around 7:30 a.m.
Another driver traveling the wrong way on the 14 Freeway in Agua Dulce caused a multi-car pile-up last Monday. The CHP says drugs or alcohol were a factor in that accident as well.
"Drunk driving ain't the thing to do," said Steve Hammond, Giles' grandson. "I pray for whoever did this."
"Even though I forgive him, he still has to pay the price because my dad's life can't be brought back," said Rosalyn Harris, Giles' stepdaughter.
Family members now look to God and each other for support, knowing the guidance they received from their father carries on.
"I thank God for being God," said Giles son' Limmie. "God gave me a good father here on Earth as well as the one in heaven, to be a God to me, and show me the way to live.
Pate remains in the hospital with major injuries. Upon his release, he will be arrested for suspicion of drunken driving causing injury. No one else was in the pickup truck.
City News Service contributed to this report.