This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Trevor Reinhold Strong one of two bicycle-riding Mormon missionaries killed in Tuesday night by a hit-and-run driver in Texas was just weeks away from coming home to Utah.
Strong's bishop, Lowell Caldwell, said Wednesday that the 21-year-old Taylorsville man had actually finished his mission for the LDS Church two weeks ago, but had purposely extended his stay.
"There were people he was working with [that] he wanted to see through," said Caldwell.
Caldwell called Strong "an outstanding young man with love for people and many friends. He was always busy, willing to take time to serve. ... We'll miss him very much."
Strong was riding with two other missionaries in Donna, Texas, at about 7 p.m. when a driver hit all three head-on.
Also killed was Derek Jason Walker, 20, of Fairfield, Idaho, according to Scott Trotter, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The third missionary, Zachary Todd Harris, 19, of Huntsville, Ala., was taken to a hospital in serious condition, but a spokeswoman for Knapp Medical Center in Weslaco said Wednesday he had been treated and released.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Elder Harris and the family, friends and loved ones of Elder Strong and Elder Walker," Trotter stated. "We pray that the Lord will comfort and watch over them during this difficult time."
Witnesses say the suspect vehicle was trying to pass another car when it plowed into the three missionaries. The driver and two other suspects then abandoned the car and ran from the scene.
All three missionaries reportedly were wearing helmets and had their bike lights on at the time of the accident.
Texas Highway Patrol Trooper Johnny Hernandez said the suspected driver, Jose Luis Garza-Flores, 32, of Weslaco, Texas, turned himself in to police Wednesday morning at the Progreso International Bridge, about eight miles southeast of the Rio Grand Valley town where the accident occurred.
Hernandez confirmed that Garza-Flores is a Mexican national, but whether he is in the country legally had not been confirmed. He was treated for minor injuries sustained in the crash. Garza-Flores was charged with two counts of failure to stop at an accident causing injury or death, both third-degree felonies, Hernandez said.
Garza-Flores' two passengers were located by police Wednesday afternoon.
"We found the other two, they have been interviewed and released. They were cooperative," Hernandez said.
Bishop Caldwell said Strong's twin brother, Scott, who currently is serving a church mission in Tucson, Ariz., was expected to return home to be with his family during their time of mourning.
According to Strong's blog, he enjoyed serving in many Spanish- and English-speaking branches of the LDS Church.
Strong updated his family through the blog, in which he wrote of his enjoyment for the missionary work he was doing and the success he had with baptisms. He also noted that he received plaques for memorizing scripture passages.
Michael Owsley, who was Walker's stake president , said Walker will be remembered as energetic, ambitious and a person of quality
"He was an amazing example of what a good young man should be in the community and the schools," said Owsley, who knew Walker for four years.
Walker who had been on his mission for 14 months also will be remembered as a hard worker.
"Everything he did was top notch," Owsley said. Walker was an athlete, an Eagle scout and loved to work on the farm with his uncle. Just prior to his mission he had worked for the Forest Service.
Owsley said the loss is a tragic one for the small town of Fairfield, located two hours southeast of Boise, but the community is already pulling together to support the family.
"They [the family] are going to find out how many people just really love them," Owsley said.
Caldwell said the Strong family had asked not to be called by news media during their time of grieving. Funeral arrangements were pending for both families.