4 from GR killed during mission trip

(UPDATE: Friday 8:05 p.m.) A West Michigan Catholic parish is mourning the deaths of four people it sent to Haiti for a mission trip.
Jan 11, 2013


A group from Holy Spirit Catholic Church, on Lake Michigan Drive in Grand Rapids, arrived in Haiti on Thursday for a medical mission trip. The group was involved in a car crash on Friday.

Four people in the group were killed in the crash. Church leaders identified the four victims as Matt Kutsche, Mary LaPonsie, and Jim and Rita Cwengros.

A source in Haiti told WZZM-TV that the crash happened near the welcome entrance to the city of Jacmel, about a two-hour drive from Port-Au-Prince.

The Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids released this statement: "We're continuing to gather information about this horrible tragedy as our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the victims."

"At this point, we know they're in God's hand," said the Rev. Father John Vallier, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish. "All of us have time here on earth, and some of us it's only a day and some you're 112. We'd hope it would be longer for these."



So devastating. :( One was a family member of my boyfriend. We still can't believe it. Praying for everyone.


So sad that something so awful can happen to someone trying to only better the world.


Condolences to the families. Be careful when you travel. All you have to do is watch the videos available on “Jailed Abroad” There is so much anti-American sentiment out there outside of our borders. In another country we American’s have no rats – oops I mean rights. Were and our children we take are kidnapping targets. Our women/girls if incarcerated on trumped up charges will be raped beyond recognition. All the American Embassies will do is check up on you to make sure you have bread and water. I personally would never go to a foreign nation without a Diplomatic Immunity card from their embassy for me and family. You can get into so much trouble in a foreign country just by simply waving with your left hand. That’s a 30 day offence. Don’t go on mission trips right now. Just don’t do it. Use your heads.


What a tough tragedy, my deepest sympathies to the families. I do want to comment on travel and service, however. I have traveled to 6 continents doing service work and have lived in a developing nation for over a year. There are risks as with everything, but GO!! I have made such a difference in the lives of so many people and grown so much myself. Other countries are not dangerous, they are just scary at first when you are learning the language or getting to know your way around. Everyone I have ever met was kind and interested in my work. Always be vigilant and be aware of your surroundings, of course, but this story should not deter you from going. In fact, it should inspire you. These 4 people died while doing the noblest of work. Follow them, help the people of Haiti rebuild their roads and lives. Come home and tell us of your journeys and how to make the world a better place. Every day is a risk, but the bigger risk is to not live at all.


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