The missionary parents of a Wheaton College student who tragically died after he was accidentally struck by a metal hammer ball during the hammer throw event have said that while they are devastated, they are confident their son is "with Jesus".
According to a statement from Wheaton College, Ethan Roser, a 19-year-old freshman, was volunteering at the Wheaton, Ill., meet when he was struck by the hammer. Wheaton College Public Safety and paramedics were on the scene and transported him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Roser, a first-year student from Cincinnati, Ohio, was the son of Christian missionaries who spent his early years in Zimbabwe, reports the Washington Post. The teen was studying theology and he wanted to become a pastor someday.
"We know he's with Jesus," his father, the Rev. Mark Roser, said, "and the fact that he's in paradise is a great source of comfort to us."
Roser's brother, Johnathan, wrote Saturday on Facebook: "This afternoon, my youngest brother Ethan, who was just 19 years old, was called home to be with our Lord. We are in shock and struggling to comprehend how we will live without him. Ethan lived a powerful life, he was studying at Wheaton, in preparation to be a minister. Ethan would want you to know that although we face many setbacks and struggles in life, that there is great victory and triumphant glory in knowing and following Jesus. Death never has the final word because Jesus overcame death and has prepared a place for us in heaven with the great ones. Although we sow in tears we will reap in joy when we see him again in paradise. We love you all very much and we're truly grateful for your prayers and encouragement. We will keep you updated on his memorial celebration service."
In track and field the hammer is a metal ball, weighing between 9-16lb (4-7kg), attached to a thin wire, says the BBC.
Bystanders said Roser was in the middle of the field, in the wrong place at the wrong time, with witness Marcus Malcolm recalling that the student "dropped down and then was unresponsive after that."
On Facebook, Wheaton students remembered Roser as a "wise" young man who "worked to teach the community about Jesus Christ."
"I can't believe this happened because he was such a good guy," Matt Brenneman, who met Roser through Young Life, said. "It's so comforting to know that he's with Jesus right now celebrating."
In a statement, Wheaton College President Philip Ryken asked for continued prayers: "We are deeply grieved, but, because of our faith in Christ, not without hope," he said. "We ask people to pray for Ethan's family, his friends, and our campus community."