Thursday, October 10, 2013

Elder Colt Daniel Kunz Electrocuted While On Mission Service In Tampico, Mexico; 11th Mormon Missionary Fatality In 2013

Twenty-year-old Elder Colt Daniel Kunz becomes the 11th missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to give his life while on missionary service during 2013. He died on Wednesday October 9th, 2013 in Mexico after sustaining injuries when he came in contact with a live electrical wire on top of a building and fell two stories to the ground. Photo available from the Teton Valley News.

Updated media reports indicate that Elder Kunz had gone to another missionary's apartment on October 9th so he could attend a training meeting on October 10th. He and the other missionaries decided to study scriptures outside because it was cooler. The missionaries lived on the second story of the building and needed to walk on a ledge to get back inside. There was a live wire hanging and it brushed against him and the shock pushed him off the building. So he fell two stories and then landed, which ended up being the cause of death. Although paramedics performed CPR on Elder Kunz for a half hour, they just couldn't get him back.

Elder Kunz hails from Victor, Idaho, where he was a member of the Victor 1st Ward in the Driggs Stake, and had arrived in the Mexico Tampico Mission just one month prior. He was a 2012 graduate of Teton High School and an accomplished athlete, participating in cross country, basketball, baseball and track and field. He is the son of Ryan and Ranae Kunz; Ryan serves as a stake president in his home town. Eric Hawkins, an LDS Church spokesman, said “In his short service he had been described as the kind of missionary every mission president wants to receive. Our thoughts and prayers are with Elder Kunz’s family, friends and others who mourn his passing.”

Not only is Elder Kunz the 11th missionary to pass on this year, but he's the second to have died in a rooftop electrocution accident in Latin America. Elder Siosiua Andrew Taufa 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. Consequently, some are wondering what missionaries are doing gallivanting around on roof. One interesting comment posted to the Salt Lake Tribune provides an answer. Justcap wrote, "In Mexico you do lots of things on top of buildings. I served in that mission almost 10 years ago and most of my houses/apartments had stairs up to the roof. The water tank is always on top; sometimes our washboard and clothesline; sometimes people keep their dogs on top; sometimes you help people clean up their roof or add on or fix a leak; sometimes that is where people have chairs set up to sit on; or sometimes it makes for a better view for pictures of the hills, jungle, river, etc." On September 6th of this year, in response to escalating public concern about missionary safety, Elder David F. Evans said Mormon missions are still inherently safe, explaining that the church had seen similar surges in missionary fatalities in 2003 and 2008 followed by declines in intervening years.

A couple of comments from relatives posted to the KSL Channel 5 website:

Lori B. posted 2 hours ago:
This is my sweet cousin. What a wonderful man he was - always smiling and so friendly. He has an amazing family - he was the baby of many children so he will be greatly missed. My condolences to his family. My last memory of him was him driving a team of horses on a sleigh during Christmas last year - he was beautiful inside and out.

OshaPhill posted 1 hour ago:
Our hearts go out to his parents. He is our Nephew, and as others have indicated, he was a most loving, kind person. His influence was wide and now he has the opportunity to greatly increase that influence. Our prayers are with and for the family and ask for God to bring them comfort.

Here's the list of the other 10 missionaries who have died in service this year (after the jump):

-- Elder Taylor Shane Ward, 19. of Vacaville, CA, was pronounced dead on September 6th, 2013, just three days after being in a traffic accident near Rockford, ID. Elder Ward was serving in the Idaho Pocatello Mission.
-- Elder Jose Daniel Encarnacion Montero, 20, of the Dominican Republic, died after being struck by a stray bullet in Cali, Colombia on August 31st, 2013. Elder Montero was serving in the Colombia Cali Mission.
-- 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 Juan Junior Litano Montero, 20, of Piura, Peru, died in July 2013 after contracting tuberculous meningoencephalitis. Originally slated to serve in the Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission, he had been serving in the Peru Piura Mission since February while waiting for his Argentine visa to be approved. A story was published in the Deseret News on September 17th.
-- 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.
-- Elder George Peter Solie, 21, of Edgerton, Kansas, died on January 23rd, 2013 from an unspecified medical condition. Elder Solie had served in the Utah Salt Lake City West Mission for a year. The only information about this was published in an official obituary.

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