Utah missionary fatally injured in Arkansas traffic accident; 3 others injured, 1 seriously

A Utah teen has died after an accident while serving an LDS mission in Arkansas. Photo: LDS Church

ROSEBUD, Arkansas, Jan. 8, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) –A Lehi teen serving a mission in Arkansas for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has died as a result of a car accident.

Two other LDS missionaries from Utah and one from California were injured in the same accident, but are expected to survive.

“Four young missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were involved in an automobile accident Thursday evening near Rosebud, Arkansas,” a statement from LDS Church spokesman Sam Penrod says.

“Tragically, one of those missionaries passed away. Elder Jake Smith, age 19, is from Lehi, Utah, and had been serving as a missionary since August 2019.”

The three other injured in the same accident are:

  • Elder McKay Jurges, of West Jordan, Utah, who sustained serious injuries and remains hospitalized
  • Elder Gavin Hatch, of Cedar Hills, Utah, who sustained minor injuries
  • Elder Eli Sutherland, of San Diego, California, who sustained minor injuries

“We pray for all of them as they recover,” the Church statement says. “We also express our sincere condolences to the family of Elder Smith and to all the missionaries of the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. We pray they will each feel the Savior’s love and comfort during this difficult time.”

According to an article published by KAIT-TV, the accident happened when an SUV crossed the center line and collided with the car carrying Smith, Jurges, 18, Hatch, 18, and Sutherland, 19.


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