Gospel bond reaches across nation to comfort crash victim

A 9-year-old Church member and passenger on the ill-fated United Airlines Flight 232 that crashed here on July 19 benefited from the "bond of the gospel" that stretches across the Church.

Shawn Edwards and his uncle, Mike McMahon, were traveling to Delaware to visit relatives when the DC-10 plane, loaded with 285 passengers, developed engine problems. According to news reports, pilots struggled to maintain control of the jetliner and make an emergency landing, but they had no control over the aircraft. The plane flipped over and lost both wings during the emergency landing.Shawn, a member of the Oregon City (Ore.) 2nd Ward, and his uncle (a non-member) walked away from the accident, which killed 111 people. However, his parents, JoAnne and Dean Edwards, were understandably concerned about their son and wanted a local priesthood holder to give him a blessing.

"The boy didn't even have a scratch on him," noted Claude Turner, first counselor in the Sioux City (Iowa) Ward bishopric and the priesthood holder who gave the boy a blessing the night of the crash. "We visited with him and his uncle at one of the college dorms where they had taken the survivors. Afterwards, I went home and called his mother to tell her Shawn was fine." The next day, Turner took the youngster some clothes. "His own had been lost in the crash," Turner explained.

Turner had been asked to give the boy a blessing after Sister Edwards had called her bishop and voiced her request. "We've taught Shawn that prayer works and blessings work," she explained. "I wanted him to have that comfort. I felt that would keep him calmer than anything I could do for him."

Turner was only one of many that reached out to survivors. Rescue officials were inundated with offers from volunteers, including many members. But because of the nature of the rescue efforts, most offers were turned down. However, many members did donate blood for crash victims, Turner said.

The day after the crash, the Edwards family flew to Sioux City. Turner said he was surprised to receive a call from Shawn's father. "He wanted to meet me at the meetinghouse. When I got there, I saw a man standing there. I put my hand out and said, You must be Brother Edwards.' He replied,I am, but I don't want to shake your hand, I want to hug you.'

"It was an emotional moment for both of us," Turner observed. "I really didn't do anything wonderful. I`m just glad I was in a position to be part of the bond of the gospel in action."

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