Adventist students killed in truck accident
Update: A fifth student has since died from injuries sustained in the crash. A mass funeral for the victims was scheduled for today (January 7, 2016). More to follow.
Wewak, Sepik, Papua New Guinea
Four Seventh-day Adventist students died when a truck they were riding in ran off the road as they returned from a convention. The accident happened midday on Monday (December 28) between Aitape and Wewak as the students came home from a Sepik Adventist Students Associated (SEASA) convention.
The injured students were admitted to Boram General Hospital, with five needing operations and six others hospitalised for head injuries and fractures. Several Pacific Adventist University (PAU) students were on the truck but only Ricah Waiu, a first year education student, was injured and has since been discharged.
The deceased have been identified as Jessica Akai (a high school student from Wewak), Deborah Barry (Lae Timber College), Lorlaine Gawi (Port Moresby Technical College) and Agessa Niangs (PNG University open campus).
“Parents of the four girls that died are strong supporters of the SEASA ministry,” said Elias Jaramo, president of the SEASA. “They are pillars in their local churches too. We are praying for peace for the grieving parents.”
The Post Courier spread on the tragedy: "The vehicle crashed when it encountered engine failure. Inset: A mother crying for the two young girls who died in the crash (left). Daniella Mati with her right arm being treated and is now waiting review (right)." [Photo supplied by Challis Pulotu]
Church leaders in Wewak have committed to support the family members of the deceased and care for the injured and hospitalised. A committee of church members from Wewak’s churches has been formed to assist in any way they can. The committed is calling on church members and the community to contribute to the medical expenses and funeral costs.
PAU is also pledging to help out in any way they can and churches in Port Moresby are running fundraisers.
A team of Adventist doctors has travelled to Wewak with medical supplies to assist with treating the injured and former SEASA members have also arrived to support and encourage the leaders and members of the SEASA community.
Obed Yama, writing from Wewak, broke the news to the PAU campus in an email on Monday. “Please pray for our students, the Adventist Church, parents and relative of the deceased and those admitted,” said the PAU student pastor.
The deceased are in the morgue awaiting family and the church arrangements for funeral and burial. A mass funeral has been scheduled in Wewak for January 7.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to support SEASA students critically injured in the accident. The money raised will help fund airfares, medical bills and ongoing care.