International Ministries (IM) mourns with the Baptist communities in Costa Rica and Panama the recent deaths of several of our partners who were attending an event for an IM missionary.
On Saturday, June 10, around 11pm, ten persons who attended a farewell service for missionary Ingrid Roldán-Román, at the Iglesia Bautista de Bella Vista in Panama, were killed as the pick-up truck on which they were passengers collided head-on with a tractor trailer. One other person not connected with the church group was killed, for a total of 11 fatalities. The driver and front passenger of the pick-up truck survived the accident, which occurred in northeast Panama, near the Costa Rica border.
Rev. Marlene Dell, director of the Caribbean Theological Center (CTC) in Limon, Costa Rica, contacted Rev. Dr. José Norat-Rodríguez -- IM's area director for Central and South America -- to inform him of the news. On the tragedy, Norat-Rodríguez said "We have profound sorrow, because of the depth of partnership we had with these Christians. We are doing everything we possibly can to comfort and assist the Bella Vista community, CTC and our own Ingrid Roldán-Román as they cope with this loss and seek God's comforting presence."
Acting Executive Director, Rev. Charles Jones, said "Our hearts are broken and deeply saddened in this terrible loss. We are entrusting the family, loved ones and friends of the deceased to God's comfort and care."
Dell confirmed published reports that among those killed were Mrs. Maritza Birch and her husband Mr. Selvin Espinosa. Birch served on the board of CTC Panama. Another CTC Panama board member, Mr. Rafael Pineda, and his wife also died in the accident.
In addition to our condolences, American Baptists, through One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS), released a $3,000 grant to assist CTC and the families in making funeral arrangements for those killed in the accident.
These board members and other Baptist partners had gathered at the church to bid farewell to Roldán-Román, who planned to leave Panama Friday, June 16, after five years of service for her one-year US/Puerto Rico assignment.
Roldán-Román has worked in the Bella Vista community for the entire time of her recent term of service. In this poor, indigenous community, she has worked to build a chapel and spur economic development. She serves with our partners CTC of Limon and the Baptist Federation of Costa Rica. Among American Baptists, Rev. Víctor Monzón and Iglesia Bautista de Buenaventura in Carolina, Puerto Rico have been instrumental in assisting with building projects in Bella Vista.
Norat-Rodríguez said he had spoken with Roldán-Román several times. In addition to his pastoral care, he said one of her colleagues, Rev. Glenda McQueen, an Episcopal priest, will be with Roldán-Román, until she leaves. She has delayed her departure from Panama until Friday, June 23.
For more information on this story, the please see the following Spanish-language articles:
Bajo el efecto del alcohol
IM is a Baptist mission agency, established in 1814, which serves the more than 5,800 churches of the American Baptist Churches USA.
Globally, IM relates to more than 500 educational institutions and 125 hospitals and medical facilities. Missionaries work in partnership with some 15,000 trained national workers, who serve about 22,000 congregations and nearly 3,000,000 baptized members