MONROE — The large Jesus statue iconic to Interstate 75 in Monroe is destroyed following an apparent lightning strike.
Motorists were stopped along the highway and around the Monroe area to watch the 62-foot “King of Kings” statue burn before officers dispersed traffic. The fire was reported just 11:15 p.m. Monday, June 15. Within minutes, all that was left was the steel frame of the statue at Solid Rock Church, 904 N. Union Road.
“It’s crazy,” said Ted Williams, 35, of Monroe, who could see the statue ablaze from a Shell gas station along Ohio 63.
After midnight, the fire had spread to the nearby amphitheater of the church, according to Monroe dispatchers. There were no reports of injuries.
The statue, which appeared to come out of the water, was known by multiple nicknames since it was built in 2004, including “Touchdown Jesus” because the arms re raised upward, similar to a motion made when a touchdown is scored in football, or “Drowning Jesus.” It also was known as “Big Butter Jesus” after comedian Heywood Banks referred to it as such and created a song about the statue, which he performed on radio’s “The Bob and Tom Show.”
The statue was constructed of wood and styrofoam over a steel framework that was anchored in concrete aand covered with a fiberglass mat and resin exterior, according to the church. Earlier this spring, the statue was power cleaned and touched up with 60 gallons of white paint to address exposure from the elements, said Ron Carter, administrator at Solid Rock, a nondemonimational megachurch.
Crews responded from Monroe, Middletown, Liberty Twp., Deerfield Twp. and Trenton, according to dispatchers.
Messages left at the church late Monday were not returned.