She's a legend here. Kendal is just the person who is not afraid to do anything. … She's part of everybody. She's part of the community. She's part of us. So I think that's why they love her. —Jenn Klenk, family friend
SALT LAKE CITY — A 20-year-old Utah woman serving as a missionary in the Australia Sydney South Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was critically injured Friday after being hit by a car near the city of Canberra.
Sister Kendal Levine, who graduated from Stansbury High School in Tooele, had pulled off to the side of the road to take a picture of a double rainbow when the vehicle she was in was struck by another vehicle, pushing Levine between the two cars, said her aunt Mindy Blake.
"Sister Levine remains in critical condition and is receiving excellent medical care," said LDS Church spokeswoman Jessica Moody. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Sister Levine, her family and her companion during this difficult time."
Blake said her niece was taken to the hospital with head trauma and internal injuries and placed in a medically induced coma. She has since stabilized and doesn't appear to have any broken bones, Blake said.
Doctors were allowing Levine to come out of the coma slowly on her own, and she has movement in her limbs and eyes, Blake said, adding that the missionary did not have any brain swelling.
"I really think that the prayers and everything everybody's doing for her behalf are really the reasons she's doing as good as she is," Blake said.
Levine's parents, who moved to Hauula, Hawaii, shortly after the woman left to serve a mission, were arranging to fly to Australia to be with their daughter.
Before leaving on her mission, Levine was a scholarship basketball player at Casper College in Casper, Wyoming. She decided to defer her studies in order to serve the mission when the announcement was made by the LDS Church to lower the age requirement for missionaries.
Jenn Klenk, a family friend, said Levine is well-loved by the Stansbury community, and many have offered their assistance to the family.
"She's a legend here," Klenk said. "Kendal is just the person who is not afraid to do anything. She's part of everybody. She's part of the community. She's part of us. So I think that's why they love her."
"She's very well-known as the lively, beautiful tomboy," Blake said.
A fund has been set up at any Wells Fargo bank under "Melody and Dave Levine, Tooele Home Branch 84074, living in Hawaii." People can also donate to father David Levine's PayPal account at [email protected]
Contributing: Sandra Yi
E-mail: [email protected], Twitter: JasenLee1