Four LDS missionaries from Utah were killed Friday afternoon in a two-car collision in south-central Iowa.
Killed were Elder Jaysen Ray Christiansen, 20, of Harrisville; Elder Jared Mont Pulham, 20, of Alpine; Elder Bradley Alan Savage, 20, of Lehi; and Elder Daniel Byrne Roundy, 19, of Kaysville. All four were serving in the Iowa Des Moines Mission.Friday night, church spokesmen were honoring the young men -- described by their mission president, Elder Robert Rowley, as "perfect sons" -- and expressing sorrow to the families and the church as a whole.
"When we lose a single missionary, it's always tragic," said Elder W. Craig Zwick, assistant executive director of the LDS Missionary Department. "When we lose four in an accident like this, the loss is incalculable. Our hearts reach out to the families of these fine young men."
Zwick said they were two sets of missionary companions who were "right where they should have been.
"It is truly our conviction and faith in the Savior that offers any comfort," he said.
The young men were returning from a church-sponsored satellite broadcast when the accident occurred about 2:30 p.m. on U.S. Highway 34 near Murray, eight miles west of Osceola in Clark County.
According to an Iowa Highway Patrol report, a Chevy Cavalier carrying the four missionaries was westbound on U.S. 34 when it attempted to pass another car and went onto the south shoulder. The driver, who was not named, overcorrected, sending the car into a skid sideways, where it entered the eastbound lane and was struck by a Nissan pickup truck driven by Herman Heckathorn, 90, of Murray.
Heckathorn also died at the scene.
Pulham is survived by his parents, Brian and Cherie Pulham, and his siblings, including a baby brother whom he never met, born last week. His Utah bishop, Greg Wilder, described him as "a bright young man, very serious about his schoolwork," who "as his brother put it, 'always got the girls, and he got to drive the fun cars.'"
Bishop William Harris described Roundy, son of Steven and Neka Roundy, as a "devoted missionary" who "had a great enthusiasm for life. He was full of vitality and drive." Roundy graduated from Davis High School and attended Ricks College for a year before being called on his mission. His sister had just completed her mission to New Jersey and was scheduled to return home Tuesday night, Harris said.
Bishop Ron Peck met with Elder Savage's family late Friday night. He said the family last spoke with Savage when they called him for Christmas.
"He told them he liked where he was, knew he was doing the right thing and was the happiest he had ever been," Peck said.
Savage came from a family of five children. His parents, Conrad "Pete" and Keri Savage, run a cabinet shop in Lehi, and it was through working at the cabinet shop that Savage gained a love for woodwork.
While attending Lehi High School, where he graduated in 1998, he was a three-time state champion in diving and planned to attend college after his mission on a diving scholarship.
"I don't know where he gained a love for the sport, but he was pretty good at it, and that skill is quite unique for a midsize school like Lehi," Peck said.
Elder Christiansen, son of Mickel Ray and Peggy Jean Christiansen, graduated from Fremont High School. He had been in the mission field for eight months.
Bishop Garth Martin described him as "just as fine a young man as I've known. He was a good friend with my son so I knew him well. He was a good missionary, an Eagle Scout. As a missionary, he was always obedient and he worked hard."
Staff writers Jim Rayburn and Laura Hancock contributed to this report.
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