[April 17, 2008] Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo Elizabeth Lechleitner/ANN
A Seventh-day Adventist missionary family survived a plane crash yesterday, emerging from the wreckage just moments before it exploded.
Barry and Marybeth Mosier of Dodge Center, Minnesota, and two of their young children were aboard a DC-9 passenger jet headed for Kisangani, where their eldest son, Keith, 24, leads the Congo Frontline Missions.
"The seats in front of them were smashed down, trapping some people underneath, and there was a fire behind them," Keith said in a widely distributed email, describing conditions soon after the jet crashed during takeoff from Goma Airport, located along the country's eastern border.
The couple's youngest daughter, April, 14, crawled through a small hole in a fuselage panel. "She didn't know if Mom, Dad and Andrew had made it out safe until they all met at the hospital," Keith said. Barry and Marybeth escaped after unpinning their adopted son, Andrew, from the debris. The three-year-old suffered a broken femur during the ordeal.
"I remember dad complaining about the airport at Goma," Laura Abbot, Barry and Marybeth's grown daughter, later said in an email. "About a third of the runway is covered with lava from a volcanic eruption, making it a really difficult takeoff."
Media reports released yesterday indicated at least 40 people died in the crash and over 100 were injured. Reports also said more than 100 people survived the crash. Many of the casualties resulted when the jet skidded through a congested outdoor market in the commercial district of Goma, Abbot said.
Barry and Marybeth have served as missionaries in Tanzania for eight years with the Kibidula Institute of Outpost Centers International, an Apison, Tennessee-based supporting ministry of the Adventist Church. The family was visiting the Congo to help them decide whether to join Keith's outreach and humanitarian efforts there.
"We're praying about whether the Lord wants us to move to Congo," Barry Mosier later told the Adventist Review. "It was a rough introduction to Congo a couple of days ago, but wherever He leads, we'll go."
In an email update, Keith asked for prayers as his family recovers from the "traumatic" and "sobering" experience. "I'm so happy they're alive."