SALT LAKE CITY — Officials with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said two missionaries were killed in a traffic crash outside of Beulah, North Dakota. The accident occurred Tuesday afternoon.

Church spokesperson, Sam Penrod said Elder Robert “Tommy” Gardner, 20, from Riverton, Utah, and Elder Jacob Aaron Kesler, 20, from Ely, Nevada, both passed away at the scene of the collision.

According to the North Dakota Highway Patrol, traffic along Highway 49 was stopped by firefighters for a vehicle fire blocking the road. A Volvo semi-truck, driven by Brandon Boucher, from Minot, North Dakota was stopped in the northbound lane with more vehicles stopped in front of the semi. The missionaries were travelling north in a Volkswagen Tiguan, driven by Gardner and did not see the stopped semi in the road.

Penrod said in a statement, “It is with heavy hearts that we inform you of the tragic deaths of two missionaries. We send our love and condolences to Elder Kesler’s and Elder Gardner’s families and friends and their fellow missionaries in the North Dakota Bismarck Mission.”

Kesler had been serving since July 2022, and Gardner began his mission the following November. Both were part of the North Dakota Bismarck Mission.

The NDHP reported both missionaries were wearing their seatbelts.

Penrod concluded, “We pray they will each be comforted and feel peace during this tragic time as they reflect on the faithful service these young men have given to the Savior, by sharing His gospel.”

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