Edmonton-area family on missionary trip killed in Swaziland car crash

EDMONTON — An Edmonton-area family has been killed in a car crash in southern Africa.

An unnamed friend told CTV Edmonton that Melissa and Brendan Perrott and their two children, Evelyn and Colton, died Sunday near Bulembu, Swaziland.

A local newspaper says five others also died in the crash.

The friend says the Perrotts, from Sherwood Park, Alta., were volunteering with Bulembu Ministries.

The non-profit group could not immediately be reached for comment, but its website says it provides care for 350 orphans and vulnerable children in Swaziland.

Global Affairs Canada says it’s aware of the crash.

“Our deepest thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of the Canadian citizens who died in a tragic accident in South Africa,” said an email from spokeswoman Barbara Harvey.

She says consular officials are in contact with relatives in Canada and are providing assistance.

They are also in contact with local authorities to gather additional information.

Rod Rypstra, Melissa’s father, said the family was returning to Bulembu after taking an orphan to a mountain bike race.

“From what we understand there was a vehicle trying to overtake another one on the highway at a high rate of speed, and when he went to go back into his lane, he clipped the vehicle in front of him, which spun his vehicle around, which in turn crashed into Brendan and Melissa travelling the other way,” said Rypstra.

The vehicles were “unrecognizable” and it was reported that all nine people involved died on impact.

“There’s a huge hole in Bulembu now that they’re gone, and a huge hole in all of our lives,” said Rypstra.

“They were dearly loved of course by all of us, but we’re going to carry on the legacy of Bulembu with Brendan and Melissa and Evelyn and Colton because we know that this is what they would want.”

The family had been working with a local orphanage and had been in the country nearly two years.

Recently they arranged to have a truck full of supplies like clothing, school equipment, instruments and tools over for underprivileged Bulembu residents.

“When they got involved in Bulembu … they fell in love with the children there and the community there,” said Dave Perrott, Brendan’s father.

“We can’t begin to tell you how proud we are of them as people and what they’ve done. They forged communities here and in Bulembu. They drew people together and their passion and love was profound,” he said.

The Great Commission Foundation has a GoFundMe account set up in the family’s name to go to Bulembu Ministries. (CTV Edmonton, The Canadian Press)

This report by The Canadian Press was originally published on Nov. 5, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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