Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

January 13, 2013

Failing brakes kill 4 in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Failing brakes were the cause of a traffic accident in Haiti that killed four Michigan residents on a medical mission, Haitian police said Saturday.

Garry Victor of Haiti's national police department said the Toyota Landcruiser carrying the four Americans and their Haitian driver crashed Friday afternoon through a barrier on a roadway in the mountains south of Port-au-Prince, then slid down a steep hill. The vehicle was in a five-vehicle convoy traveling to a hamlet where the missionaries were to spend a week providing medical attention to villagers.

Three of the Americans died on the spot and the fourth died in a hospital in the coastal town of Jacmel, Victor said. The Haitian driver was also taken to the hospital for medical treatment.

Roman Catholic officials in Michigan identified the four Michigan residents as Matt Kutsche, Mary LaPonsie and Jim and Rita Cwengros.

A West Michigan clergyman, the Rev. John Vallier, said LaPonsie and Jim and Rita Cwengros had previously served on at least 15 multiple missions to the village of Seguin in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

The long-time members of the Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, were "dynamic, active people ... living their faith as best they could," said Vallier, the church's pastor.

Vallier said his church had a relationship with a parish in Seguin. "We help them with their water filtration system and dental work. And they have representatives come here and share with us some of the things they do in the school and the church," he said.

Other missionaries in the group were planning to return from the trip early in the wake of the accident, the Michigan pastor said. He said that the families of those killed were in West Michigan on Saturday, waiting for more details about the crash.

A pastor in Jacmel was trying to figure out how to transport the bodies of those killed back to Michigan, said Bertorny Domond, director of the Matthew 25 inn in Port-au-Prince where the missionaries had stayed. "They're still working to get the authorization," he said.

The group's Haitian driver was identified as Martin Glisil by Theresa Patterson, executive director of Parish Twinning Program of the Americas, the Nashville, Tenn., nonprofit group that runs the inn where the Americans stayed the night before the accident.

Text Only

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad