GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Family, friends, community filled Parish of the Holy Spirit Church, in Grand Rapids for a special prayer service.
They`re mourning the deaths of Matt Kutsche, Mary Laponsie, Rita Cwengros and Jim Cwengros.
These four men and women were serving in a third world country. They were getting ready to do mission work in Haiti when the vehicle they were in drove off a mountain.
The group volunteered with Haiti Needs You on a medical mission. They were making a 6 to 8 hour trek over dangerous terrain.
Fourteen other volunteers, ranging in age from 15 to their 50s, were on that same trip.
All but one is from West Michigan. They too filled the congregation Saturday night, having flown back to Grand Rapids in time for the service.
Brad Debruyne`s wife was on that trip. He says after hearing of the accident, he and others scrambled to find a plane that could fly him to Haiti to bring the other members back.
“We received a phone call all the way up until 10:00 last night, that Amway Corporation would take our entire team back in one trip,” he said.
“And that they would go all the way into Port Au Prince, today to get our team back and provide an aircraft large enough to do that which is nothing short of a miracle to get them all back at the same time and so quickly,” DeBruyne added.
When he arrived in Haiti DeBruyne said, “Immediately there was a flood of emotion and tears, knowing that they`re going home and that they can leave that part of it behind for right now.”
“Some tears were leaving behind those that didn`t make it and some tears were tears to get home,”
On the four hour flight back, he says the volunteers spent time reflecting on those lives lost.
Tonight, they’re trying to cope. DeBruyne said West Michigan’s support has been instrumental since this tragic news broke.
“The prayers and the support of the community are an anchor. I think it bodes well for Grand Rapids, who we are as a culture. This is what we are,” DeBruyne said.
“I want to thank Amway Corporation. With them we could not be doing this tonight. The healing process begin starting within 24 hours of such a tragedy,” he said.
Debruyne said the director of Haiti Needs You, Tim Ryan, also flew to Haiti. He is there now, arranging for those who perished to be flown back.