December 3, 2008 – Leon, Nicaragua…[IAD Staff]
A plane carrying missionary volunteers from Guatemala to Colombia crashed landed on the west coast of Nicaragua Monday. All six volunteers were injured but survived.
The Adventist volunteers were from Gospel Ministries International (GMI), with an office in Bolivia, the final destination of the flight. They were returning from a three-day missionary congress held in north Mexico at Montemorelos University.
At 10:00 p.m. Pilot Jeff Sutton, missionary pilot for Bolivia and GMI coordinator for Latin America, noticed a sudden drop in oil pressure as he flew the six-seater Piper Malibu aircraft.
“They were descending at 400 fleck from 21,000 so Sutton headed to the nearest airport in Nicaragua which unfortunately was unlit,” reported David Gates, founder and president of GMI who reported from Malaysia.
The aircraft sustained extensive damage during the crash and narrowly missed several homes in the Sutiaba community, one kilometer from the Fanor Urroz runway.
The injured were transported to nearby Oscar Danilo Rosales Rugello Hospital in the city of Leon. Two were critically injured while the other suffered broken bones, lacerations and bruises.
Among the worst injured was 22-year-old Lylian Chavez from Mexico who underwent surgery for abdominal injuries. She is recovering. The other volunteers were Gerardo Coyazo Cardona, also from Mexico, Juan Carlos Samoyoa from Guatemala, Richard Carrera, Red Advenir director, and Norman Ulises del Rosal Ortiz as well as Pilot Sutton sustained cuts and bruises. All were reported in stable condition yesterday.
Church leaders at the Nicaragua Adventist Mission are assisting in handling housing and logistics as they recover. Arrangements are being made for their safe return to Bolivia.
“It is hard being on the other side of the world during this emergency,” said David Gates. “We are praising God for his care and access to immediate hospitalization. The loss of the engine at night and emergency landing in the unknown can be a very frightening, but God Gave Jeff good judgement and I can't think of anything he could have done differently. Plans are replaceable but people are not, God is so good.”
For years, Gospel Ministries International has benefitted the territory of the Inter-American Division through various missionary endeavors. Gospel Ministries International is a faith-based, volunteer-driven organization which seizes opportunities to carry God's love, through sacrifice, to the world. For more information, visit www.gospelministry.org