Zeeland group: Missionary killed, another injured in plane crash

Bruce Van Fleet and Luke Sullivan aboard a plane

An undated courtesy photo shows Bruce Van Fleet (left) and Luke Sullivan (right) aboard an aircraft. (Paradise Bound Ministries/Facebook)

GUATEMALA CITY (AP/WOOD) — A Zeeland ministry group says one of its missionaries seriously injured in a small plane crash in Guatemala has died.

Paradise Bound Ministries of Zeeland announced Friday afternoon that aviation director Luke Sullivan, 28, of Texas passed away hours earlier. Sullivan leaves behind three young daughters and his wife, Ashley, who is pregnant with Sullivan’s fourth daughter.

Visiting missionary pilot Bruce Van Fleet, 32, of Florida was also seriously injured in the crash. Paradise Bound says it is evaluating Van Fleet’s treatment options.

Their plane took off Thursday from Quiche department. It was bound for Guatemala City’s international airport when it went down in Chimaltenango department, about 20 miles from the capital, according to Guatemala’s aviation authority.

Sullivan’s wife said he had more severe burns because he “was in the plane for the Long haul,” while Van Fleet launched out of the plane beforehand. She said a farm worker pulled Sullivan out before the fuel explosion happened.

A GoFundMe page set up for Sullivan’s medical bills said the crash left him with burns on 95% of his body, 80% of which were third-degree burns. In a Facebook video, Sullivan’s wife said he also suffered head trauma and a cut to his neck.

Guatemalan authorities said the men were initially hospitalized in Chimaltenango and then taken by helicopter to a private facility in the capital.

Lanser said Sullivan had gone down to Guatemala earlier this month to fly pastors to small villages.

On March 1, Paradise Bound said in a note on its website that its Guatemala plane was returning to the Central American nation after being in the United States for engine repair. It added that the repairs were successful and the aircraft had logged more than 15 flight hours without incident.

According to Paradise Bound’s website, the group’s Guatemala mission trips include “home construction, medical clinics and Gospel presentations.”

— Figueroa reported from Guatemala City and Krumholtz from Mexico City.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

News 8 Links