Battle Ground church van stolen from hospital parking lot

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

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A van belonging to a Battle Ground church was stolen Sunday, and congregation members hope it is returned.

When his daughter went into labor Sunday evening, Jim Keithley, a member of the Community Baptist Church, borrowed the van and drove to Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. He and his wife arrived at the hospital about 5 p.m.

After welcoming his 24th grandchild, a healthy baby girl, Keithley went out to the hospital’s parking structure.

“We weren’t there two hours, and I came down to the van and it was gone,” he said.

Clark County sheriff’s deputies are reviewing the surveillance footage at the hospital to see if there is any evidence of the theft, said the agency’s spokesman Sgt. Fred Neiman. The van is a 1991 cream-colored Ford Aerostar with Washington license plate AFY2843.

Church members use the van every Tuesday to drive to the Clark County Food Bank to stock up the church pantry with food for distribution to families in need through the church’s emergency food box program.

A church member who is out of town for the next three weeks has loaned his van for the weekly trips, but Keithley said that after that, the program will be difficult to maintain.

“If we’re meant to do this ministry, God will provide,” he said.