BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL – Today marks one week since LDS missionary Stephen Ward was injured in a train derailment in Spain.
But he’s already looking forward to continuing his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He won’t be serving in El Feroll on the northern coast of Spain, where he was headed when the crash occurred, but at the site of the Madrid Temple and Missionary Training Center.
“They wanted to keep him under observation for a while, so they reassigned him to an area close to Madrid,” his mother Beverly Ward said on Monday.
Ward, 18, a Bountiful resident, survived the train derailment that happened on July 25 in Santiago De Compastela. The accident killed 80 people and injured 100.
He’s still wearing borrowed clothing as he waits for his luggage to be shipped back to him from the north, and is wearing a neck brace.
Ward was on the train heading to his first assignment, where his companion was to meet him.
He suffered cuts to his scalp, a neck injury and a concussion in the derailment. Ward was taken to the hospital in La Corvina, Spain.
The young man is still taking some medication for pain, his mother said, but he plans on finishing his mission and told his parents he’ll see them when his mission is complete in two years.
“He has a strong desire to serve a mission for the church and to do good in the world,” Beverly Ward said.
Doctors in Spain, including his mission president Scott Jackson, are still monitoring his progress. Jackson is an orthopedic surgeon.
Following the train wreck, Jackson went to the hospital where Ward was taken and consulted with the Spanish surgeons himself, checking out Ward’s X-rays and CT scans. Jackson also called colleagues in the United States for additional opinions.“It was a huge blessing for him,” Beverly Ward said.
She explained that with so many injured people needing treatment, Jackson wanted to ensure nothing was overlooked by hospital staffers in their attempts to treat everyone as quickly as possible.
“I’ve never been to Spain,” Beverly Ward said, “and it was comforting to us (Ward and her husband, Dr. Ray Ward) that he was getting good care there.”
Ward was the only LDS missionary on the train, and while he speaks Spanish, his language skills are limited, his mother said:
“It was a challenge for him to be in this situation, amid all the panic and chaos.”
As a child, Ward was afraid of blood and needles, but after fighting cancer С Burkitt’s lymphoma С three years ago and being hospitalized, he’s more used to that environment, Beverly Ward said.
His experience has given him a connection to the Spanish people few missionaries will ever have.
“ He told us that as he was waiting to be transported, he felt such a loss and grieving for the people they were carrying away,” Beverly Ward said. “He already is feeling a great love for the Spanish people.”
On Monday, national news organizations reported that investigators had examined data from the train’s black box.
The train had been going 119 mph just before it derailed, according to the investigation. The speed limit through the are is 50 mph.
The driver had been speaking on the phone with the train’s ticketing officer when the accident occurred.
A solemn Mass was also held on Monday to honor those killed and injured. Members of Spain’s royal family attended.
The engineer was provisionally charged on Sunday with multiple counts of negligent homicide.