NET Ministries van involved in fatal crash

| December 15, 2015 | 1 Comment

A Nebraska man died, and several people — including 10 passengers of a NET Ministries van — were taken to Fremont, Nebraska-area hospitals after a highway crash Dec. 14.

One team member of the West St. Paul-based Catholic youth ministry remains in serious condition, but the injuries aren’t life-threatening. Others were treated and released from several medical facilities.

Mark Berchem, NET Ministries founder and president, said the team members “are shaken up by the experience and very concerned for their teammate and sad for the family of the gentleman who died.” This is the first time a tragic accident involving a NET Ministries vehicle has occurred, he said, adding that all drivers are screened and trained.

“We’ve been very grateful for the outpouring of prayers and support that we’ve received from people in the local community, people in Nebraska, NET alumni across the country, and the broader NET community around the world, which is rallying around this team,” Berchem said.

According to Nebraska news reports, 12 team members of NET Ministries were involved in the crash that occurred around 8 p.m. near Colon, Nebraska, a small town about 40 miles west of Omaha. The NET Ministries van, which was hauling a trailer, was struck by a vehicle when driver Theresa Nguyen, 22, of Louisiana, attempted a U-turn. The driver of the vehicle, Walter Anderson, 88, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Saunders County Sheriff’s Office. A female passenger was transported to a hospital.

The missionaries, whose ages range from 18-25, are from all over the country, Berchem said. They were on their way back to St. Paul for a Christmas retreat before winter break after having served in the western U.S. The night of the crash, they were scheduled to stay with a NET Ministries alumni host family.

Berchem said all but the hospitalized team member likely will return to Minnesota on Dec. 16. NET Ministries will have priests and counselors available for them, and NET Ministries staff will check up on them during break. It’s unknown when the hospitalized team member will return to Minnesota.

“We’re very impressed with the first responders. Police, fire [and] medical personnel from five communities were involved and were exceptional. The team and the staff are very, very grateful,” Berchem said.

The crash is under investigation.

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Category: Local News

  • Christopher Bauer Anderson

    I am from Anoka, MN and served on NET 1992-1995 the best and hardest time in my life. I fell in love with the fullness of the Catholic Church and my faith grew more then you can imagine. My heart breaks for the family and friends of the person that died and I pray for the repose of his soul. I also pray for the Netters as they recover. With all we have gone through this year hold your loved ones close this Advent season. Pax