Monday, September 2, 2013

Elder Jose Daniel Encarnacion Montero Dies From Stray Bullet In Colombia, Becomes The Seventh LDS Missionary To Give His Life In The Mission Field During 2013

While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endeavors to make a full-time mission as safe of an experience as possible for missionaries, unforeseen mishaps can occur. On Saturday August 31st, 2013. Elder Jose Daniel Encarnacion Montero became the seventh LDS missionary to give his life while serving in the mission field during 2013.

According to LDS spokeswoman Ruth Todd, the 20-year-old Elder Montero was with three other missionaries when he was struck by a stray bullet in Cali, Colombia. The other missionaries were unharmed, and the incident is currently under investigation by police in Colombia. Elder Montero, who hails from the Dominican Republic, was assigned to the Colombia Cali Mission. A comment posted to the KSL story directs us to a story from, a Spanish-language media outlet from Cali. According to the English-language translation of this story, Elder Montero had been assigned to Cali for three weeks, and was struck by the stray bullet while inside an apartment located at 123 Race Street in the Desepaz Calimío neighborhood east of the city. Witnesses say they did not hear any gunfire or witness any gang fights at the time of the shooting. Two of Elder Montero's three companions are further identified; one is from Bolivia, and another from Ecuador. But another commenter to the KSL story says rival media outlets in the area report the shooting took place in the Agua Blanca district, which was off limits to missionaries 15 years ago.

The LDS Church issued the following statement:

"Elder Encarnacion's passing will be deeply felt in the mission and by all who knew him. We grieve with his family and friends during this time of mourning and extend to them our love, prayers, and deepest sympathy."

Here are the other six who have given their lives in 2013:

-- Elder Jason Reid Wiberg, 19, of Roy, Utah, died of injuries sustained after being struck by a vehicle while bicycling in Kuching, Malaysia on August 24th, 2013. Elder Wiberg was serving in the Singapore Mission.
-- Elder Thomas Milo Bennett, 21, of Window Rock, AZ, suffers cardiac arrest and passes away in Casper, WY on Saturday August 3rd, 2013. Elder Bennett was serving in the South Dakota Rapid City Mission.
-- Elder Joshua Allen Burton, 23, of Cardston, AB, Canada, died of post-surgical complications on Monday July 22nd, 2013, two days after a runaway truck slammed into him. Elder Burton was serving in the Coban Guatemala Stake.
-- Elder Siosiua Andrew Taufa, 20, of Salt Lake City, Utah, died on Wednesday June 20th, 2013 after coming into contact with a high-voltage wire while patching a Guatemalan family's leaky roof during a rainstorm. Elder Taufa served in the Guatemala Retalhuleu Mission.
-- Elder Jeffrey Rogil Guerra Alfaro, 22, of Lidingo, Sweden, collapsed while jogging in Provo, Utah on May 9th, 2013. He was later diagnosed with a ruptured cerebral aneurysm and passed on. Elder Alfaro served in the Utah Provo Mission.
-- Sister Alesa Smith, 22, of Benton, AR, died on February 1st, 2013 after being struck by a pickup truck while bicycling in Woodward, OK. She was assigned to the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Mission.

These fatalities run in cycles; during 2012, no missionaries died while on mission service. The last missionary to have died by gunfire was Elder Jermaine Luther Walker of Kingston, Jamaica, who was shot and killed in crossfire while police were chasing another vehicle on January 17th, 2010. I have noticed that an excessive number of missionaries die after being struck and killed by motorists while bicycling during evening and nighttime hours. See my partial list of missionaries who have given their lives while on mission service.

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