Two missionaries die in New Mexico collision; third is hospitalized

Two full-time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving in the New Mexico Farmington Mission died in a head-on collision in New Mexico on Thursday, July 22.

Elder Michael Austin Davis, 20, of Corinne, Utah, and Elder Tyson Gene Haycock, 20, of Miles City, Montana, both passed away as the result of injuries sustained in the accident, according to Church spokesman Sam Penrod.

A third missionary in the vehicle — Elder Britton Jeremie Berrett, 18, of Roberts, Idaho, who was driving the Toyota Tacoma in which the three elders were riding — sustained serious injuries; he is in stable condition and being treated at a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The accident occurred at approximately 4:23 p.m. on July 22 on Indian Service Route 125, according to law enforcement reports. It is still under investigation by the Ramah (New Mexico) Navajo Police Department and the FBI, with the New Mexico State Police assisting.

The driver of the other vehicle was seriously injured and was taken to the hospital.

Elder Davis had been serving since August 2019, while Elder Haycock’s missionary service had begun last month, June 2021. The latter was several weeks into his in-field service, and the former just weeks from concluding his two-year assignment.

“Our deepest sympathies go to the families of these faithful missionaries, and we express our love and condolences to all who love them,” Penrod said. “We pray that their families, friends and the missionaries they have served alongside will all feel God’s love and peace during this difficult time.”

Elder Tyson Gene Haycock.
Elder Tyson Gene Haycock. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Haycock loved outdoor activities — especially hunting and fishing — as well as reading and athletics, said Bishop Shawn T. Coffin of the Miles City Ward, Glendive Montana Stake.

“I think one of the most enduring traits about him was his commitment to his family and his family’s commitment to him — they are a tight group,” said the bishop of Elder Haycock, the oldest of Dustin and Jessica Haycock’s three children. “Dustin said it this morning — ‘We really have to band together and be strengthened by this experience’ is what he told his family.”

Having worked and attended college prior to starting his mission service, Elder Haycock was older than most new missionaries. “He knew he was going to feel a little out of place,” the bishop said, “but he came to the realization that that is what the Lord wanted him to do.”

Bishop Coffin recalled his last interaction with Elder Haycock: “He was sitting in the chair right across from where I’m sitting now, very nervous about going on that mission. But looking me in the eye, he said, ‘Bishop, I know this is what the Lord wants me to do, and I’m just going to go do it.’

“That conviction in the young elder’s eyes — it was a very moving experience, and there was no doubt he was going to grow and going to do what the Lord asked. It was like I was seeing conversion take place right before my very eyes.”

Elder Michael Austin Davis.
Elder Michael Austin Davis. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Davis is the second-youngest of the seven children of Bryan and Kim Davis, members of the Corinne 1st Ward, Brigham City West Stake.

“He comes from a wonderful family, and a wonderful community that is rising up to support them,” said Corinne 1st Ward Bishop Alexander J. Gilmore.

The bishop described Elder Davis as an athlete who loved sports and a wide range of activities. “He’s a stellar guy and loved by all, just a huge personality with kindness and empathy. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like him.

“He was just enthusiastic for life. He loved everybody, he loved life, he loved the Church and the gospel, and he just wanted to share it.”