Injured musician 'has every good quality you can think of'


The Capital-Journal

A Topeka musician remained in critical condition Monday at a Peoria, Ill., medical center, where he was being treated for injuries he suffered in the Friday night accident that killed Christian singer Rich Mullins. 

Mitchell McVicker, 24, a graduate of Shawnee Heights High School, was a patient in the neuro-special care unit at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. The intensive care unit is for head-injury and trauma patients. 

At the time of the accident, which occurred about 100 miles southwest of Chicago on Interstate 39, McVicker and Mullins, 41, were on their way to Wichita, where they were to perform a benefit concert on Saturday night. 

Mullins was considered for the past 15 years to be one of the leading songwriters and singers in contemporary Christian music. 

Friends described him as complex, introspective, humble, generous and absent-minded. He was forever losing his keys, his shoes, even his instrument. 

"Hard to know and hard not to love," said Nichole Lundgren, who toured with Mullins for seven years. "One of the things about him was he was real open with his struggles." 

Mullins' biggest hit was "Our God Is An Awesome God," a song that is sung in churches across the country. He made seven albums, most on Reunion Records, and was due to begin work on a new album next month on the Myrrh label. 

Authorities said the accident in which Mullins died occurred at 9:53 p.m. Friday in the southbound lanes of Interstate 39, near the town of Lostant, Ill. 

Sgt. Ed Adams of the LaSalle County Sheriff's Department said Mullins and McVicker were traveling in a 1994 Jeep Wrangler ragtop when the vehicle, for unknown reasons, lost control and flipped. The men, whom officials believe weren't wearing seat belts, were tossed from the Jeep. 

A semi-tractor trailer truck also traveling south on Interstate 39 came upon the flipped-over vehicle and an occupant on the roadway and swerved to avoid them. The truck then struck Mullins, who was in the other lane. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials don't know who was driving the Jeep. 

McVicker, a member of Shawnee Heights United Methodist Church, played basketball at Friends University in Wichita, where he met Mullins. In recent months, McVicker, himself a singer and songwriter, had been opening concerts for Mullins, including one in July in Overland Park. 

Carla Hazen, of Topeka, a family friend through the Shawnee Heights church, said McVicker and Mullins had collaborated recently on a musical, "Canticle of the Plains," based on the life of St. Francis of Assisi. 

McVicker and Mullins also had been involved in a ministry to Indians living on a New Mexico reservation. 

"Mitch is a terrific young man who has every good quality that you can think of," Hazen said. "That would describe him for as long as I've known him, and I've known him since he was a sophomore or junior in high school." 

Hazen said McVicker lived his beliefs, rather than just talking or singing about them. 

"He was a Christian through and through," she said. "Even when he went off to college and he'd come back and talk or sing, you could tell they weren't just words to him. Everything he said, you knew he meant. He was genuine." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.