U[The Deseret News is reporting this afternoon, an incredibly tragic story of two sister missionaries who were killed in an automobile accident in Orlando, Florida:

Two missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were killed in a car crash near Orlando, Fla. The LDS Church said the sister missionaries were driving to the temple in Orlando on Thursday afternoon when they were killed in a broadside crash with a pickup.

The women were identified as Alice Ann Rust, 63, of Layton, Utah, and Connie Linford Spackman, 66, of Thayne, Wyo. Rust is from Morgan, Utah and had recently moved to Layton before leaving on a service mission with her husband. A spokesman for the Rust family said the woman’s husband was returning home to prepare for a funeral scheduled for next Thursday.

“Their hearts are aching,” said Mark R. Gilleland, the president of the Layton, Utah, East Stake. “But they wanted people to know how much their mother wanted to serve on a mission, how hard they prepared to serve and how well they were enjoying it.”

Church officials said the two women were on service missions with their husbands at an LDS-owned welfare ranch that has cattle and grows fruit. Gilleland said the women were heading to the temple while their husbands finished up some tasks at the ranch.

Orlando police did not return calls today seeking comment, but the Orlando Sentinel newspaper reported that the women’s Toyota Scion turned into the path of a pickup on Kirkman Road.
Spackman died at the scene, and Rust died en route to a hospital. The driver of the pickup was treated for injuries, the newspaper said.

The LDS Church issued a statement today expressing sympathy for the families of the missionaries. “Our hearts are deeply saddened at the deaths, and our sympathy and prayers go out to their husbands, families and friends at this difficult time,” LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said. “We pray that they will find peace and comfort in the promises of the Lord concerning those who give their lives in his service.”

I haven’t located other outlets covering the story; but, I will update as I find more information. Please remember these families in our prayers at this difficult time, particularly at this time of year.

Update (3:29 p.m.) Florida’s Orlando Sentinel has a story here; but, doesn’t even reference the sisters as serving a mission. Rather the reporter describes them just as tourists. How unfortunate. Just a few questions by the reporter would likely have revealed that these sisters were serving others at the time of their deaths.

(Update 3:36 p.m.) KSL (Salt Lake City) TV’s website also has a very brief write up here, with a supposed video link–but I couldn’t get the video to work.

(Update 5:50 p.m) ABC 4 (Salt Lake City) TV’s website is running this story.

(Update 12/23/06 6:40 a.m.) The Salt Lake Tribune