NEW ALBANY – A member of the youth group from First United Methodist Church in New Albany remained missing in Costa Rica on Monday after having been swept out to sea.
Marshuan Braxton, 17, along with other youths was standing on some rocks looking at the Pacific Ocean when a large wave crashed on them Sunday evening, said the Rev. Jerry Beam, superintendent for the New Albany District of the United Methodist Church.
Four youths went into the water and three made it back to shore.
Kim Day, Braxton’s Sunday school teacher, said her husband and daughter were with Braxton when the accident happened. The group of 15 youths and adults, who were in Costa Rica doing mission work, worshipped Sunday morning with other missionaries in the village of San Isidro.
Day said the group ate lunch before stopping for some sightseeing. They were traveling by bus to the rural village of Villa Brinceampño, in the country’s central region, where they were going to help build a gymnasium and a new sanctuary at Jesu Christo Es El Seampñor Methodist Church.
Day, who has known Braxton more than 10 years, said this was his first mission trip abroad, but the high school senior-to-be had volunteered numerous times with relief efforts throughout the South.
Braxton helped in rebuilding along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and worked each year with local disadvantaged youngsters. He also was scheduled to go on a missionary trip to Kansas City, Mo., next month.
“He was a real life force,” said Day, whose three children grew up with Braxton. “If the doors were open and the youth were invited, he was there.”
She said Braxton was particularly excited about going to Costa Rica.
Elnora Howell, Braxton’s grandmother and guardian, said he worked at a movie theater to pay for his passport and plane ticket.
“He was obedient and religious and did everything the church asked him to do,” said Howell.
New Albany head football coach Ron Price, who had coached Braxton since the seventh grade, said he was a model of hard work and dedication.
“He was always looking for ways to make the school and the community better, and this mission trip was a perfect example of his care for others,” said Price.
Braxton has three older sisters and one younger brother.
Beam said his office was communicating with Costa Rican authorities and the U.S. Embassy to monitor the situation. He added that the mission trip, which was to last one week, has been canceled and the group will return home today.
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker R-Miss., said he was saddened to hear the news about Braxton, adding that his office assisted the group in dealing with the U.S. Embassy and helped with the logistics of their return. Wicker said he will continue to monitor the situation and be prepared to offer further help.
First United Methodist’s associate pastor, Amanda Gordon, and her husband are remaining in Costa Rica to help with the search.
Contact Galen Holley at 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal