TULSA, Okla. — An LDS sister missionary from Utah was critically injured when the van she was traveling in was hit Friday morning in Oklahoma.
Sister Nancy Vea, 19, of West Jordan, was taken by medical helicopter to St. John Medical Center in Tulsa for treatment.
According to a statement by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vea had been serving since May in the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission. She "was critically injured today in an automobile accident and is on life support," said Jessica Moody, an LDS Church spokeswoman.
"Two church members and three other missionaries were also in the vehicle. They were treated at a local hospital and are expected to fully recover. We extend our love and prayers to Sister Vea’s family and to all those who know her, and hope they will find comfort in the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Moody said.
Around 8:30 a.m., the Dodge van containing Sister Vea was heading south on the Muskogee Turnpike in Wagoner County. The driver of the van, identified as a church member but not a missionary, attempted a U-turn at a cutout in the concrete barrier, according to Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Betsy Randolph. A semitrailer following behind applied its brakes.
The semitrailer was hit from the rear by a Freightliner 16-passenger bus, according to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, pushing it into the van.
Vea was not wearing a seat belt, Randolph said, and was ejected from the car.
The cutouts where the driver attempted the U-turn are generally reserved for law enforcement, she said, and are risky to use for U-turns.
“It’s extremely dangerous even for troopers that are seasoned and have a lot of training in doing that particular maneuver," Randolph said. "It’s very dangerous and scary.”
The van was on its way to Tulsa from Greenwood, Arkansas, according to Brooke Porter, a member of the LDS Church living in the area.
Gary Hughey, a church member, said Vea was loved by all who knew her. He hosted dinners for the missionary and her companion in the few months she was out in the field. Hughey made her Polynesian food and talked with her about the culture to help her feel more at home.
"Just a beautiful, beautiful spirit, had just a very flowing personality," he said. "She had a certain sparkle in her eye. In Hawaii they would call it the ohana, which means the family. The mana about her, her spirit, her spirit was just so vibrant. You could just feel that she had a great love for, for everybody and for everything."
Vea was one of the few "willing to just give without any reservation," as selflessly serving and as being "willing to do the Lord's work," Hughey said. She lived life to its fullest, he said.
Before her mission, Sister Vea lived and attended church in the West Jordan Cobble Creek Stake in West Jordan.
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