WOODWARD, Okla. — A community is reeling from the loss of a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who was killed Friday while riding her bike home with her companion.
Alesa Renee Smith, 22, was struck and killed by an 18-year-old driver, while riding on an unmarked road. The driver apparently could not see Smith and her companion.
"There was a vehicle going West and blinded the young man and he did not see the young lady on the bicycle and he struck Miss Smith on the rear," said Det. Chuck Wheeler with the Woodward Police Department.
She died at the scene. Her companion, however, was unharmed in the incident.
Nolan Taylor, mission president for the Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission, said that while Smith had served for 10 months in the mission, the companions had been in the city of Woodward for only two days. They were sent to open up the city after a senior missionary couple had left. He expressed great love for Smith and remorse at her death.
"She is a lovely, kind, thoughtful and very compassionate young woman who was here because she loves people and loves the savior Jesus Christ."
He said the community is stunned and that thousands have joined in fasting and praying for Smith's family during the difficult time.
The LDS church issued a statement Sunday night expressing grief on behalf of the worldwide corganization.
"The entire Church grieves at her passing and we pray for her family and friends at this difficult time," the statement read.
A funeral for Smith will be held in Arkansas, where she is originally from. Taylor said that a memorial services will be held in Oklahoma for missionaries and some others who wish to remember and pray for Smith and her family.
Contributing: David Self Newlin