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Missionaries remembered as diligent, faithful

Elders on bikes hit by car in Texas McAllen Mission

The elders were riding their bikes at around 7:30 p.m. when a vehicle hit all three of the missionaries. Elder Zachary Todd Harris was hit, and injured.

"They were fantastic young men and the type of missionaries any parent would be proud of," President Stephen J. Trayner of the Texas McAllen Mission said of Elders Strong and Walker. "We were with them yesterday all day ... and we took pictures during the lunch hour and the two of them were standing by one another with smiles on their faces, just loving what they were doing."

Elder Trevor Reinhold Strong
Elder Trevor Reinhold Strong
Elder Derek Jason Walker
Elder Derek Jason Walker

Elder Strong, 21, from Taylorsville, Utah, had been serving for two years at the time of the accident.

"Elder Strong was very engaging, a very personable young man," said President Trayner. "If you knew him for 30 seconds you had a friend for life."

Elder Strong had been scheduled to return home from his mission by the first week in November, but he had requested, and was granted, a three-week extension.

"Elder Strong was a very committed missionary," said Bishop Lowell Caldwell, Elder Strong's home ward bishop. "He was very dedicated to his family and had a strong testimony. He had a great testimony — he actually extended his mission a little bit to continue working with people he was working with."

Elder Strong's twin, Elder Scott Strong, is serving in the Arizona Tucson Mission.

"Trevor was a good student in school," Bishop Caldwell said. "He loved sports, and he and his twin brother were always busy with one activity or another. They didn't slow down much."

Elder Walker, 20, from Fairfield, Idaho, had been serving for about 13 months at the time of the accident.

"He loved to make people laugh," President Trayner said. "He was the type of missionary I would be proud to have be my own son."

Wendell Idaho Stake President Michael Owsley has been acquainted with the Walker family since they moved to Fairfield four years ago. He remembers Elder Walker as a "bright young man," an athlete who loved football, a great example to others and a leader.

"He was full of energy, he loved to work hard and was an Eagle Scout," President Owsley said of Elder Walker. "He lived the gospel all seven days of the week. He is going to be really missed in this community."

The third missionary involved in the crash, Elder Harris, 19, is from Huntsville, Ala., and was released from the hospital the day after the accident with multiple cuts, stitches and bruises, but no broken bones.

Scott Trotter, a spokesman for the Church, said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with Elder Harris and the family, friends and loved ones of Elder Strong and Elder Walker. We pray that the Lord will comfort and watch over them during this difficult time."

A Church-issued statement said, "We pray that [the families of the missionaries who died] will be comforted as they mourn the loss of their loved ones, who served others selflessly as missionaries."

On Nov. 9, the day after the accident, President Trayner and his wife, Sister Sandra Trayner, spent all day visiting the other missionaries serving in the Texas McAllen Mission — with them was Elder Harris.

"It's a real tragic turn of events that no one plans on having during their time as a mission president," said President Trayner. "We are going to work through it and help these missionaries ... [cope with] the tragic loss of two very wonderful missionaries."

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