Church volunteer dies in fall

PARKERSBURG – A volunteer died Tuesday evening after falling through the ceiling of the South Parkersburg Baptist Church gymnasium.

Bernard R. Williams, 79, of Parkersburg was changing the filter on a heating and cooling system when the accident occurred, Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin said.

“He was just there helping out at the church,” he said.

Williams had volunteered to do maintenance at the church since his retirement and reportedly left his home to go there around 7 p.m. Tuesday, Martin said in a news release. He was in an attic area when he fell for some reason, causing a portion of the gym’s drywall ceiling to break.

Williams fell approximately 20 to 25 feet to the floor.

Information obtained from people who knew Williams and evidence at the scene indicate his death was accidental, the release says.

Williams’ body was discovered by the church custodian, who was securing the building for the night, according to a release from the church, which is at 1655 Blizzard Drive. The custodian called 911 around 10:43 p.m., police said.

Emergency medical responders were unable to resuscitate Williams at the scene.

The church release says Williams was a member of the church’s Property Team.

“The church family is deeply saddened by the loss of this faithful member of our congregation,” the church said.

Martin offered the police department’s condolences to the Williams family in his release.