October 30, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Bright lights of peace extinguished

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: October 26, 2003: Dayton Daily News reports on Peace Corps Safety and Security: Archive of Stories and Commentary: October 30, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Bright lights of peace extinguished

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-25-92.balt.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, November 04, 2003 - 9:48 am: Edit Post

Bright lights of peace extinguished

Bright lights of peace extinguished

Bright lights of peace extinguished

Death in the Peace Corps, 1962-2003

Dayton Daily News

Their mission is to spread peace by living and working in the developing world.

But ever since President John F. Kennedy sent the first volunteers around the world more than 40 years ago, the cause of peace has had a tragic side-effect.

Since 1961, about 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, and 250 have died, about one every other month.

The largest number, nearly 100, died in motor vehicle crashes.

Others were stricken with heart or asthma attacks, strokes or illnesses such as malaria and even rabies.

One was gunned down by a sniper, another trampled by an elephant.

Twenty-eight reportedly drowned.

At least 20 were murdered, and nearly as many took their own lives.

Alcohol was linked to dozens of deaths ó one of every six.

Some deaths have never been explained, remaining mysteries to this day. In other deaths, families were given little information or weren't told the truth.

Although the volunteers died from myriad causes, more than 180 of them had a common link. Each was younger than 30.

Part of the legacy of the Peace Corps is the volunteer who never made it home. Some of those stories are told below.


David Crozier and Lawrence Radley

Crozier and Radley become the first Peace Corps volunteers to die in service when a DC-3 crashes into a mountain in Colombia on April 22, 1962. Their bodies are never found.

Paul Bond, Gerald Flynn and Troy Ross

Three volunteers on vacation in Peru are among 49 killed when a commercial airliner crashes on April 27, 1966.

Lowell Dunn

Dunn is playing cards with two volunteers in Thailand on Aug. 23, 1966, when a short-circuit in the hotel wiring causes the lights to go out. He is electrocuted when he flips the light switch.

Marcia and Dennis Pearson

Two married volunteers on a skiing trip in Turkey become lost in a blizzard for four days. By the time a search team finds them on Jan. 31, 1967, it is too late. The search team then becomes lost and has to be rescued by villagers.

William Reiser

Ohio State University graduate dies on Feb. 10, 1967, when the Jeep he is riding in overturns near Kibi, Ghana. Two other volunteers escape injury.

William Ackerman

While still in training, 23-year-old volunteer dies Nov. 27, 1968, in Colombia from an overdose of sedatives. Phone call to his father five days before reveals Ackerman was depressed about his job site and other matters. The Peace Corps calls his death a suicide.


Marie Clutterbuck and Gail Gross

Clutterbuck and Gross are among an estimated 30,000 dead in May 31, 1970, earthquake in Peru. The volunteers are in their apartment building when the walls collapse. Their bodies are found four days later.

David Bogenschneider

Volunteer in Kenya has been missing for three weeks when his body is washed ashore in the Indian Ocean on Oct. 20, 1970. He had been on vacation with two other volunteers, but parted ways and went out on his own. "We donít know if he drowned or if there was some foul play involved," said his brother Larry. The Peace Corps rules his death an accidental drowning.

Agatha Thornton

Volunteer dies in Liberia on March 22, 1971, five hours after slipping into a malaria-induced coma. Religious reasons are cited for declining medical treatment.

Alan Banner

Volunteer dies in Samoa while swimming in the ocean on April 16, 1972. Another volunteer reports seeing a shark attack Banner. Body is never found.

Stephen Hamer

Volunteer in Malaysia is hit by a car while riding on the handlebars of a motorcycle on Oct. 23, 1975. The death is the second involving motorcycles in three months.

Louise Wolf and Polly Zimmerman

Two volunteers sharing an apartment in Morocco inhale fumes from an unventilated gas heater on Oct. 22, 1976. One body is found in bed, the other in the bathtub.

Christine Thompson

Twenty-seven-year-old volunteer is stricken in Ecuador and dies in a Miami hospital on Aug. 6, 1978. Family is told volunteer had stroke but finds out later she had attempted suicide earlier and used psychedelic mushrooms. "She ate the mushrooms and thatís what probably killed her," her mother said.


Lynne Masover

Thirty-four-year-old volunteer becomes sick with flu-like symptoms for six days. Peace Corps medical office prescribes bed rest. On May 19, 1980, Masover becomes severely ill and dies before seeing a doctor.

Shaun OíBrien

Volunteer and two other bicyclists are hit head-on by a Jeep in the Philippines on Jan. 22, 1984. The driver takes two to the hospital, but OíBrien has to wait for another driver to transport him. He dies nine hours after the accident. He becomes the third volunteer to die in the Philippines in three years, and a fourth would die nine months later.

Jennifer Rubin

Twenty-three-year-old in Togo is the only volunteer in a village of 500 when she is stabbed to death in her home on June 12, 1984. The daughter of her landlord is charged with arranging for two men from a neighboring village to kill her. All three received life in prison.

Peter Wolfe

Volunteer is shot in the head and killed Oct. 28, 1984, in an apparent robbery attempt in Guatemala.

Matthew Sherman

Minster, Ohio, volunteer dies on Sept. 8, 1988, after night watchman at the Peace Corps training site in Honduras mistakes him for an intruder in an area of heavy crime and guerrilla activity.


William Nordmann

Twenty-four-year-old volunteer is one of 113 fatalities when A310 commercial plane crashes into a mountain in Nepal during a heavy rainstorm on July 31, 1992.

Lucille Raimondo

Volunteer dies May 22, 1995, after going for a hike during rainy season in Guatemala. Peace Corps rules accidental fall from a cliff, but family is skeptical. "It was a dangerous place, " said Lucinda Edwards, the 22-year-old volunteerís sister. " If a situation like that happened in Boston I wouldn't believe it."

Jeremy Rolfs

Rolfs becomes the second Peace Corps volunteer to die in four days when the 27-year-old telecommunications adviserís car is hit head-on March 31, 1997, in South Africa. The driver in the other car apparently fell asleep. Five days later, the body of Elizabeth Livingston was found more than a week after she went for a hike in Costa Rica.

Joie Kallison

Taxi carrying six people blows a tire and rolls over in Namibia on March 13, 1998, killing 23-year-old volunteer. Driver pleads guilty to negligence but serves no jail time. Kallison is second volunteer to die in traffic fatality in the African country in a little more than a year.

Robert Bock

Volunteer is last of 10 people shot and the only American killed in the Philippines by a gang that targets people at random. Among the dead: four electric company workers responding to power outage. Bock is shot on Aug. 12, 1998, as he returns from library where he was researching pig farming.

Helene Hill

Fifty-seven-year-old volunteer in Namibia dies on Jan. 10, 1999, three weeks after her cancer is detected in a South Africa hospital. "Itís very sad," the hospitalís general physician said about her case. "Eventually she wanted to go back to the U.S., but she was too ill."


Jennifer Rose

Volunteer is returning from a South African vacation when the Land Rover she is in flips over in Namibia on Dec. 30, 2000. A friend in a nearby car stops at a farmhouse and calls the U.S. embassy, which dispatches a rescue plane. Rose dies before the plane lands.

Natalie Waldinger

Volunteer, 24, and a friend leave their car to photograph an elephant in a game park in the Tanzanian interior on Jan. 7, 2001, when the clicks from their cameras apparently enrage the animal. He charges and tramples Waldinger to death as her friend scrambles to safety.

Larisa Jaffe

Sixty-three-year-old volunteer is murdered in her home in Mutare, Zimbabwe, on Oct. 7, 2001. The body is found, days later, under the homeís floor boards. A 17-year-old is charged and found guilty of killing her.

Elizabeth Bowers

Earlham College graduate dies March 6, 2002, from injuries in a fall from a bicycle in Zambia. Local residents take her to Catholic priest, who brings her to a local clinic. She is then transported to a hospital in Pretoria, where she has surgery to relieve swelling on her brain. She dies of a brain infection four days later.

Zachary Merrill

Volunteer in Mali takes his own life on July 7, 2003

Source: Peace Corps Death in Service database, Dayton Daily News research.

Peace Corps Death in Service database

[From the Dayton Daily News: 10.29.2003]

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Story Source: Dayton Daily News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Safety and Security of Volunteers; Investigative Journalism; Obituaries



By Anonymous ( on Tuesday, November 04, 2003 - 4:04 pm: Edit Post

Do they have an injured in srevice database?

By creedipc (67-42-149-25.ptld.qwest.net - on Thursday, September 07, 2006 - 1:21 am: Edit Post

Justin Brady, PCV from Corvallis, Oregon and Matt ( last name unknown), PCV, died Sunday Sept. 3, 2006 in Mali. They were in a sailboat that 4 volunteers built when it went underneath a low power line, electrocuting Justin and Matt and severly inujring the two other PCVs.

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