Four of the five Christian youths going from Oklahoma to Iowa for a Teen Mania conference died after their small plane made a crash landing and caught fire in a field in southeastern Kansas.
The Kansas Highway Patrol said Saturday the twin-engine Cessna 401 crashed Friday afternoon about nine miles west of Chanute. The plane landed in a field and skidded about 200 feet before hitting trees.
The pilot had been in contact with air traffic controllers and there was no distress call, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Four recent graduates of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., including the pilot, and a former instructor in the College of Business were on their way to the May 11-12 "Acquire the Fire" conference in Council Bluffs, Iowa, said Texas-based Teen Mania Ministries, which organizes the conference.
Those killed were identified as the pilot Luke F. Sheets, 23, of Ephraim, Wis.; Austin G. Anderson, 27, of Ringwood, Okla.; Stephen J. Luth, 22, of Muscatine, Iowa, according to CNN. All three were Oral Roberts graduates. Former instructor Garrett V. Coble, 29, of Tulsa, Okla., was also killed.
Anderson and Hannah Luce, 22, daughter of Oral Roberts trustee and Teen Mania founder Ron Luce, survived the crash. The two were able to walk to a nearby roadway and get help. However, Anderson succumbed to his injuries early Saturday. Luce was recovering in a hospital in Kansas City, Mo.
"We are so saddened by what has happened and ask for all those who have been touched by this ministry in some way to rally around the families of all involved in the crash, especially the four young men who passed away," Ron Luce said in a statement. "Please lift them up in prayer, and ask for the Holy Spirit to surround them with God's love and peace. They all had a heart for this generation, and were passionately pursuing God's call on their lives."
Oral Roberts President Mark Rutland also posted a message on the university's Facebook page, saying, "Please pray for all of the families that lost loved ones and for Hannah in the hospital. Pray for God's peace to be with all of them and pray for Hannah's healing."
Acquire the Fire is a national Christian youth conference that takes place in 32 major cities throughout the United States and Canada. Over the last 20 years the youth conference has encouraged over 2.7 million young people to passionately pursue Jesus Christ, the ministry says. Hundreds of youth groups come to this 27 hour Christian youth conference annually to take part in worship, drama, and messages.