St. Petersburg, Florida – They were young women who changed the world and made it a better place. The Welch sisters lived to help others, and they loved their church, especially singing gospel music. For India Welch, her voice was her calling. And, the place she felt the most at home, in addition to Prayer Tower Church where her father is a pastor, was her Uncle Clarence’s studio at Bam Bam productions in St. Petersburg.
India, just 24-years-old, would stand proudly at the microphone singing gospel music and talking about her sisters, LaMour, 29, and Tehira, 18, who would have been a senior at Gibbs High School. The studio is the same place her uncle now grieves. He shared her favorite song Monday night with WFLA. Her voice and her spirit rang out in the quiet studio. Clarence Skimmer was raised in the church with a passion for music and family, namely his 3 nieces. He shared with News Channel 8 how the young women lived their lives in dedication to God and others, explaining, “From LaMour down to Tehira, always giving, always loving, always caring about others.”
Early Monday morning, the phone call came from Clarence’s brother. Pastor Ricardo Welch lost all three of his daughters at the same time. When Clarence picked up the phone and heard the news, he was in shock over the loss of his beloved nieces. “I thought I was dreaming, at first. Is this for real? I lost it, I felt like I was gonna, I felt like i was gonna pass out. This can’t be.” Clarence tells us this family is strong and leaning on prayer.
He added, “I sat on my couch and leaned my head back. My head hurt so bad, I sat back up and I said God, what do we do? What do we do? How do we even move past this, it won’t go away. I heard a small voice say, you’ve gotta trust me.”
India and her sisters loved to sing all the time especially on road trips. Clarence’s hope is that while his nieces lived in a world of faith, their voices will now carry on, far beyond this lifetime. “They lived to help people, all three of them. That’s all they ever wanted to do.”
A friend of the young women, Antwayne Robinson of North Carolina, was traveling in the car with them on State Road 70 when the Passat they were in was hit head-on at 7:02pm. Robinson also lost his life in the accident when an oncoming truck hydroplaned and hit the car with the Welch sisters inside. The truck was driven by Jennifer Zuninga, 30, of Venus, Florida. A six-year-old little boy who was also in the truck is the lone survivor.
A homegoing service for the Welch sisters is planned for Saturday at noon. It will be held at the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg.