Elder who died following car accident remembered for devotion, humor

A young elder who died Sept. 17 following a car accident days earlier in western Canada is being remembered as a “missionary of faith” who lifted many with his humor and devotion to sharing the gospel.

Elder Bryant Keck, 19, of Sanford, Colorado, “was a wonderful missionary who was full of life,” said Canada Vancouver Mission President G. Blake Wahlen. “Everyone that served with him or around him loved Elder Keck. He was just a great, hard-working missionary.”

Elder Keck and his companion, Elder Dallin Thompson, 19, of Sahuarita, Arizona, were driving Sept. 13 in Kamloops, British Columbia, when their vehicle reportedly collided with a truck.

Elder Thompson was also injured in the accident and was in critical condition.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family and loved ones of Elder Keck as they mourn his passing and honor his life and missionary service,” said Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff.

“We continue to pray for Elder Thompson and his family as well as the individuals in the other vehicle. We hope everyone involved in this tragedy will feel the comfort and peace of the Holy Spirit during this difficult time.”

Standing 6-feet-4-inches tall, Elder Keck was impossible to miss as he went about his missionary duties. But it was his commitment to the work that his fellow missionaries in the Vancouver mission will remember.

He was serving as a district leader at the time of the accident and had been serving his mission since June 2018. 

“We just attended one of his district councils just two weeks ago because we wanted to feel his spirit,” said President Wahlen.

Serving in western Canada was special for Elder Keck because many of his ancestors were from the region. “He actually had an opportunity to share the gospel with some of his family members living in the area,” said President Wahlen.

The mission president said he and his wife, Sister Jana Lee Wahlen, enjoy a special kinship with Elder Thompson. They all met in the Provo Missionary Training Center earlier this summer when they were preparing for their respective assignments.

“Elder Thompson was part of the first group of missionaries we welcomed to the mission,” he said. “He’s been out less than three months.”

During their relatively short time together, Elder Keck and Elder Thompson formed a powerful companionship, said President Wahlen. “They loved serving with each other and they worked hard.”

It’s a tender time for the Canada Vancouver Mission. The sisters and elders are mourning the loss of Elder Keck and praying for Elder Thompson — even while dedicating themselves to the work of sharing the gospel.

Elder Scott D. Whiting, a General Authority Seventy who serves in the North America Northwest/West Area, arrived in Vancouver this week to preside over a tour of the mission that was scheduled months ago.

“It’s a difficult time for the mission and our hearts go out to the Keck family,” said Elder Whiting. “We are praying for them”

Elder Whiting said he can trace the Lord’s hand in the many ways that the Vancouver missionaries — and Elder Keck’s family in Colorado — are being cared for.

“It’s no coincidence that Elder Whiting is with us,” observed President Wahlen.

The accident, said President Wahlen,  has united the mission and “reminds us of our Heavenly Father’s plan for us.”