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One Year Anniversary: Four GR Mission Workers Killed in Haiti

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Saturday marked the one year anniversary of a tragic accident that took the lives of four people from Grand Rapids while serving a medical aid mission in Haiti. The group was being driven from the airport to the village where they were going to provide medical and dental aid when the vehicle they were in veered off the roadway.

A memorial has been built to honor the lives of the four mission workers at the crash site in Haiti.

Matthew Kutsche, Mary Laponsie, Rita and Jim Cwengros were killed in the crash.

Matthew Kutsche’s father David said that the support from family and friends helps he and his wife heal from the tragedy.

“Like we expect for it to be a tough day, but had some happy times this morning when several of Mathew’s friends showed up first thing this morning with some flowers,” said David.

David said that  the memory of his son still lives on through pictures.

” You think about Mathew really several times every day. Sometimes just quick thoughts here and there, and other times you are doing something wishing Mathew was around,” said David.

Matthew also left behind his fiance Carly. The couple had planned to marry this past summer.

“It’s good for us like I said, having Carly here, being able to do things with her.  She works hard, keeps busy. That helps everybody, to keep busy, but she misses him. Probably more than anybody,” said David.

David said that his son had plans to join the US National Guard and at the time of his death was involved in mentoring at risk teens.

“He just loved working with the kids. We got a nice card from two kids that he was working with at the time last year, and a card from the lady who runs the program said Mathew never missed a graduation for those kids,” said David.

The family has started a memorial fund in Mathew’s honor with the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. Their goal is to help poverty stricken students to afford a higher education.

“Community Foundation has something set up with Harrison Park Elementary. If kids stick with the program through high school, they will have guaranteed scholarships,” said David.

Donations can be made with the Grand Rapids Community Foundation under the Mathew Kutsche Scholarship Fund.

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