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Car strikes, kills LDS missionary in Argentina

Companion from W.V. injured by drunken driver

SHARE Car strikes, kills LDS missionary in Argentina

An LDS missionary in Argentina was killed and his companion was injured when they were hit by a drunken driver while walking to meet a family and accompany them to Sunday services.

Elder Matthew S. Turley, 21, of Ridgefield, Conn., and Elder Tyler A. Watts, 20, of West Valley City, were walking on a path beside a street in San Luis, Argentina, when they were struck from behind by a drunken driver who was on the wrong side of the road, said Dale Bills, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Elder Turley," Bills said Monday. "We pray that the Lord will comfort them as they mourn his loss."

Elder Turley's father, Scott Turley, told KSL-TV his son was "a very determined young man in all he did, and his mission was no exception."

In 2002, Elder Turley made headlines as a high school athlete who refused to play in a state high school championship football game because it was on a Sunday. As a practicing Mormon, he told the News-Times in Ridgefield, Conn., "I've never faced a decision of this magnitude."

The missionaries were on their way to meet a family who was preparing for a baptism and were to accompany them to church services, said Salt Lake Granger South Stake President Roger Nordgren, who oversees the Watts family's West Valley ward.

The Watts family "is obviously grateful that their son wasn't injured more seriously," Nordgren said.

The Argentinian newspaper El Diario de la Republica reported Monday that Daniel Hipolito Martin, 27, was detained on charges of automobile homicide. The newspaper said Martin fled the scene of the crash and was found a couple of blocks away, and police said Martin tested positive for alcohol use.

Describing a bloody scene, El Diario de la Republica published crash-scene photographs of a blue Volkswagen with a shattered front windshield. The Spanish-language newspaper said Turley was dragged for 20 meters and died of head injuries.

Elder Watts was treated and released from a local hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, the LDS Church said. Local church members were helping him. The Watts family spoke to him Sunday night.

"He was able to walk," Nordgren said. "He said he was doing well under the circumstances."

Elder Turley had served in the Argentina Mendoza Mission for 21 months, Elder Watts had served 17.

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com