An automobile accident in Rosebud, Arkansas, has taken the life of Jake Smith, 19, of Lehi.
Smith was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Little Rock Arkansas Mission, according to Sam Penrod, church spokesman.
The LDS Church released the following statement:
“Four young missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were involved in an automobile accident Thursday evening near Rosebud, Arkansas. Tragically, one of those missionaries passed away. Elder Jake Smith, age 19, is from Lehi, Utah, and had been serving as a missionary since August 2019.”
The other three missionaries in the vehicle were injured but are expected to recover, according to Penrod.
“Elder McKay Jurges of West Jordan, Utah, sustained serious injuries and remains hospitalized. Elder Gavin Hatch of Cedar Hills, Utah, and Elder Eli Sutherland of San Diego, California, both sustained minor injuries,” Penrod said. “We pray for all of them as they recover.
“We also express our sincere condolences to the family of Elder Smith and to all the missionaries of the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. We pray they will each feel the Savior’s love and comfort during this difficult time,” Penrod said.
It is apparent through Smith’s Facebook page and photos that he was happy and successful serving his mission.
President Bryan Atwood, Smith’s LDS stake president in Lehi, spoke of Smith with acclaim and a smile.
“Jake comes from a strong group of friends,” Atwood said. “Sixteen of them are on missions. Last summer one of them was in an accident while she was serving on a mission and was paralyzed from the waist down.”
Atwood not only served as Smith’s stake president but previously as his bishop. It was Atwood that represented the church in telling Steve and Tina Smith about their son Thursday night.
“The Smiths were first shocked and in disbelief but amidst the sadness and grief it turned into peace and faith,” Atwood said. “It was a touching thing to hear them share their faith. I felt so lifted up with their expressions of faith.”
Atwood said that Smith was training a new elder at the time of the accident.
“He was a young man that had everyone smiling. He had a good attitude. When there was a service opportunity he was the first one there,” Atwood said.
Smith is one of four children and graduated from Skyridge High School.
On Dec. 28, Smith posted a video on Facebook of his personal testimony. He testified that Jesus Christ was his savior.
On Jan. 2, Smith changed his Facebook profile photo and added these words from Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under heaven.”
Atwood continues to work with the church and family as they prepare to bring their son home.