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Missionary dies, another injured in Atlanta car crash

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ATLANTA — A missionary of the LDS Church died and another was seriously injured following an automobile accident with a semi truck Friday in Atlanta, church officials confirmed.

Sister Natalie Ann Barnard, 20, from Snoqualmie, Washington, died Friday as a result of her injuries sustained in a car accident, according to church spokesman Eric Hawkins. Sister Barnard’s companion, Sister Rachel Beckstrom, 19, from Tooele, was also seriously injured in the accident, Hawkins said.

Sister Barnard had been serving in the Atlanta North Mission since October of 2014, according to Hawkins.

“We extend our love and prayers on behalf of their families and loved ones at this difficult time,” said Hawkins on behalf of the church.

KSL spoke with Sister Beckstrom's father, Curtis Beckstrom, before he and his wife and daughter prepared to board a plane to Atlanta. Curtis confirmed that the two missionaries were hit by a semi truck traveling around 45 mph as they attempted to make a right turn with limited visibility due to trees. The car was dragged 30 feet, Curtis said.

Sister Beckstrom, who has only been serving in Atlanta since February, has been unresponsive since the accident, and is in extremely critical condition, according to Curtis Beckstrom. She had brain surgery Friday evening following the crash, Curtis also said, and has multiple bone fractures and limited breathing.

Curtis Beckstrom, along with his wife and daughter, a student at Tooele High School, are traveling to Atlanta Saturday afternoon to be with Sister Beckstrom. Curtis offered his prayers and thoughts to the Sister Barnard and her family, as well as the driver of the semi truck.

The Barnard family, through the LDS Church, released the following statement.

"As a family, we are deeply saddened by the loss of our loving daughter, sister and granddaughter. On behalf of our entire family, we wish to express our love and appreciation for all of the support and prayers that have been offered in the wake of this tragic loss. Her loving family and all of her friends will miss her larger-than-life smile and the radiance that made her instantly lovable. In this tragic time, our comfort comes from our belief that Natalie is with our Heavenly Father and that she continues the Lord's work with the same vigor with which she entered the mission field. Natalie was driven by a deep conviction to serve a mission. She loved the people of Georgia and served them faithfully. She would not have wanted to be anywhere else than serving in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission. We love our Savior, Jesus Christ, and we know that through him and his eternal sacrifice that we'll someday soon see our beloved Natalie again. It is with this knowledge that we have the comfort and courage necessary to mourn and celebrate the life of our dear Natalie.​"

A GoFundMe account* has been set up for Sister Beckstrom to help raise money for her care as well as travel expenses.

*KSL.com has not verified the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the account nor does KSL.com assure that the monies deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Ben Dowsett

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