'He's got God laughing right now,' Pastor remembers EMT killed in crash

'He's got God laughing right now,' Pastor remembers EMT killed in crash
Joseph Burnette, 44. (Source: Family)
Joseph Burnette, 44. (Source: Family)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Laughter followed Josh Wheeler, 26, where ever he went. It's his laughter that Wheeler's loved ones remember most in the defining silence of his absence.

"There's never a dull moment with Josh, always excited. I told someone he's got God laughing right now," said Wheeler's pastor, Brother Robert Martin.

Returning home from work early Friday morning, Wheeler was hit head-on by a suspected drunk driver going the wrong way on I-110, said police. After the crash, police said two men stopped their cars on the interstate and got out to help. One of those men was 44-year-old Joseph Burnette. Before Burnette could return to his car, police said an 18-wheeler collided into the crash scene. Burnette was killed. The other unidentified Good Samaritan was badly hurt, as was the suspected drunk driver.

Wheeler succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital three days later, on Monday, January 9. The loss of Wheeler hit his church family especially hard. One of nine siblings, his pastor said Wheeler was meant to heal others, whether the hurt was spiritual or physical.

The 26-year-old was a youth pastor at Voice of Pentecost Church and a part-time paramedic with Acadian Ambulance. The church plans to rename its youth chapel in Wheeler's memory.

"Everything he did was something to help people," said Martin.

The church pastor says the Wheeler family was able to connect with the family of the second Good Samaritan at the hospital. That man is still fighting for his life.

Police have not released the name of the suspected drunk driver as the investigation of the wreck continues. The driver also remains hospitalized with serious injuries.

Police do not believe the driver of the 18-wheeler was impaired.

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