LDS missionary dies after Brazil hit-run accident

Ex-Park City soccer star was 'friend to everybody'

Published: Tuesday, April 22 2008 10:55 a.m. MDT

A former Park City High School soccer star died Monday after a hit-and-run accident in Brazil, where he was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Elder Matthew Lawrence Knoop, 20, was hit by a car Sunday in Catu, a small town about two hours away from Salvador, Brazil, according to a statement from the LDS Church. Knoop was taken to the Alianca Hospital in Salvador, where he died Monday.

Knoop's parents were at the Brazilian consulate in Los Angeles arranging to fly to Brazil when they received news their son had died, said Scott Palmer, the Knoops' LDS stake president and family spokesman.

"We're just heartbroken about it," Palmer said. "But they have hope. Their faith is sustaining them."

Knoop was walking on the side of a road in Catu on Sunday afternoon when he was hit from behind by a car, Palmer said. Another missionary suffered minor injuries in the hit-and-run accident, Palmer said. Police in Brazil are investigating the accident, he said.

"Our sympathy and prayers go out to Elder Knoop's parents, family members and friends at this difficult time," the LDS Church said in a prepared statement. "We pray that the spirit of the Lord will bring comfort, peace and healing to all of those involved."

Knoop was a man with a "commanding look — very tall, very handsome," Palmer said. "He excelled at soccer, and he excelled scholastically. But he was a humble kid, a kind friend to everybody. He wasn't arrogant even though he probably had the right to be."

Knoop was a four-year varsity soccer player at Park City High School. He captained the team to a state championship in 2006, his senior year.

"I'm in shock. I don't know what to say," said former Park City coach Mike Guetschow.

Guetschow said he watched Knoop mature as a player on the field, but "more so than what he did on the soccer field, to give back to the younger players is what you want to see as a coach. He was a huge influence on the younger players."

Knoop had been serving for 10 months in the Brazil-Salvador Mission, according to a church statement.

No funeral arrangements have been made, Palmer said, and it could be some time before Knoop's body is returned to the United States.

Knoop is the second Park City High graduate to be killed by an automobile in just over a week. Connie Blount, 18, died April 13 in a hit-and-run accident in Kentucky, where she was enrolled at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Blount was hit and killed by a truck as she crossed a street, police said.


Contributing: Dan Rasmussen

E-mail: afalk@desnews.com

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