Tragic traffic accident in North Dakota claims 2 missionaries

Elder Jacob Aaron Kessler from Nevada and Elder Robert ‘Tommy’ Gardner from Utah died at the scene of the June 4 accident near Beulah, North Dakota

Two full-time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving in North Dakota died in a traffic accident Tuesday, June 4.

Elder Jacob Aaron Kesler, 20, from Ely, Nevada, and Elder Robert “Tommy” Gardner, 20, from Riverton, Utah, both passed away at the scene of the collision. According to a statement issued Wednesday, June 5, by Church spokesman Sam Penrod, the missionaries were traveling on a highway outside of Beulah, North Dakota, when their vehicle struck a semi-trailer truck, which had stopped in the road due to an accident.

Elder Jacob Aaron Kesler
Elder Jacob Aaron Kesler | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The two were serving in the North Dakota Bismarck Mission. Elder Kesler had started his missionary service in July 2022 and Elder Gardner in November 2022.

Elder Robert “Tommy” Gardner
Elder Robert “Tommy” Gardner | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“We send our love and condolences to Elder Kesler’s and Elder Gardner’s families and friends and their fellow missionaries in the North Dakota Bismarck Mission,” Penrod said. “We pray they will each be comforted and feel peace during this tragic time as they reflect on the faithful service these young men have given to the Savior by sharing His gospel.”

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