Two full-time missionaries serving for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lost their lives in a two-vehicle accident north of Texas’ Dallas-Fort Worth area Tuesday, May 18.
Elder Luke Masakazu Carter, 18, of Springville, Utah, and Elder Eli Jon Fowler, 20, of Pueblo West, Colorado — both serving in the Texas Fort Worth Mission — died in the head-on collision in Denton, Texas, said Church spokesman Sam Penrod.
Elder Carter had started his missionary service in November 2020, Elder Fowler in January 2020.
“The cause of the accident is being investigated by local law enforcement. It occurred during a heavy rainstorm. The driver of the other vehicle is hospitalized. Both missionaries were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident,” Penrod said.
“We express our love and deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Elder Carter and Elder Fowler and to the missionaries in the Texas Fort Worth Mission. We pray that all will be uplifted by the Savior’s love and feel comfort during this difficult and trying time.”
President Jeffrey Bertoldo of the Pueblo Colorado Stake cited the engaging, connecting personality of Elder Fowler, from the Pueblo West 2nd Ward and the third of five children of Cody and Kim Fowler.
“He loves being with people, and they tend to gather around him,” said the stake president of the young man. An Eagle Scout who learned to play the guitar by ear and played four years of soccer at Pueblo West High School, Elder Fowler worked both as a medical assistant and at the call center of an orthodontics practice prior to his mission.
“He was simply thrilled to be called into full-time missionary service and labor to bring others unto Christ. He was fulfilling his heart’s desire,” President Bertoldo said.
“We feel very strongly the love that Heavenly Father and the Savior have for Eli and his family. They have sure testimonies of our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ and know that as they rely on Them, it will help us through this difficult time. And they have a loving ward family and stake family that love and support them.”
President Eric Graves of the Springville Utah Spring Creek South Stake recalled interviewing Elder Carter as part of his mission application, asking him why he wanted to serve. “He said, 'I want people to be as happy as I am,'” said President Graves, adding that “his mom describes him as her little ray of sunshine. …"
“One of his greatest traits is his contagious optimism. You want to be around him — it’s his contagious smile that just draws people in,” said the stake president of the active young man who enjoyed "Star Wars" and playing basketball.
Elder Carter, from the Spring Creek 1st Ward, is the second of seven children of Josh and Paulette Carter. His older brother is serving as a full-time missionary in the Nevada Reno Mission.
“They are a strong family,” President Graves said. “All of them have served faithfully in their assignments and callings and continue to do so. They exemplified great hope and faith as we shared this tragic news with them. They understand, but it doesn’t soften the hurt and the sting associated with losing someone so loved and so close to you.”