SIDNEY TOWNSHIP — A local pastor was found dead Sunday morning after his car was spotted, submerged in a lake, by a passing driver.
Montcalm County Sheriff Deputies responded to a one-car unknown accident at 9:54 a.m. on S. Brown Road between W. County Farm Road and Ruby Road.
A passerby observed a vehicle submerged in Lampman Lake on the east side of S. Brown Road.
The vehicle was approximately thirty feet off of the roadway and was completely submerged in approximately six feet of water.
The Montcalm County Sheriff’s Dive Team located a deceased 53-year-old male behind the wheel with his seat belt still on. No other occupants were inside the car.
The man has been identified as Kurt Hoffman of Stanton, who served as the pastor of Trinity Evangelical Free Church in Stanton.
Administrative and Children’s Ministry Pastor Mark Edwards said Hoffman’s presence was felt throughout the church and beyond the borders of the Stanton and Sheridan communities.
“Pastor Kurt was a pillar in this community, he was loved by all, both inside and out of the church,” he said. “He was a true man of God. The community, as well as the members of our church, saw him as their pastor.”
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the investigation has determined Hoffman failed to negotiate the curve in the roadway, struck a fallen tree and went into the lake at what appears to be a high rate of speed.
According to his family, Hoffman was last seen Saturday morning.
It is unclear when the vehicle entered the water. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death. Deputies continue to investigate the cause of the crash.
Assisting with the incident were Montcalm County EMS and the Captain Hook Wrecker Company.
According to Edwards, Hoffman came to the church 14 years ago serving as the church’s youth pastor with his wife Brenda. They have two children.
Four years ago, Hoffman became the church’s senior pastor.
Edwards said the primary concerns right now are to be there for Hoffman’s family, as well as finding a way to properly grieve and heal as a church.
“The community is reeling,” he said. “Every pastor in the Sheridan and Stanton communities have offered assistance.”
According to Edwards, the Evangelical Free Church of America will provide support over the next few weeks to help the church transition to a new senior pastor.
Edwards said a funeral service is still pending at this time, and that arrangements are being handled by Barden Funeral Home.
Edwards added that all services will likely be held at the church.