A missionary pilot who recently had moved his family from Longview to Guatemala died Friday from injuries received in a plane crash the day before on a mission trip.
Luke Sullivan, a 2013 graduate of LeTourneau University, was the aviation director and pilot on a trip with Paradise Bound Ministries, accompanied by visiting missionary pilot Bruce Van Fleet. The plane went down Thursday about 20 miles from Guatemala City, seriously injuring both men, according to the Associated Press.
“I’m sorry to report that (LeTourneau) graduate Luke Sullivan has passed away in a plane crash in Guatemala,” university President Dale Lunsford said in a written statement. “He was only 28 and leaves a young family behind.”
Sullivan graduated with a degree in aeronautical science with a missions aviation concentration, university spokeswoman Janet Ragland said. His wife, Ashley Bonilla Sullivan, is a 2014 LeTourneau graduate .
The couple has three daughters, and a fourth on the way, according to Paradise Bound Ministries, which is based in Zeeland, Michigan.
On March 1, Paradise Bound Ministries 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 said the repairs were successful, and the aircraft had logged more than 15 flight hours without incident.
Paradise Bound Ministries’ website says its Guatemala mission trips include “home construction, medical clinics and Gospel presentations.” The ministry is willing “to do whatever it takes to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost and dying in Guatemala,” according to its website.
“Luke’s heart and passion were to use aviation to share Christ with the Guatemalan people,” according to the written statement from Paradise Bound Ministries. “He and his wife love the Lord and love the Guatemalan people.”
Sullivan’s funeral will be July 9 or 10 at the Fellowship Church in Houston, a Facebook post by Ashley Sullivan said. The date will be finalized when Sullivan’s body is returned to the United States, she wrote.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family, Lunsford said. As of 9:15 p.m. Monday, it had raised $75,268 of a $100,000 goal.
Luke Sullivan’s Facebook page shows an event he and his wife hosted in February to explain to their upcoming move to their friends. The GoFundMe page says they moved to Guatemala at the beginning of June.
“(Sullivan’s) sacrificial life does remind us of what is ‘best,’” Lunsford said. “As Paul wrote to the Philippians, ‘It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.’”