Mormon missionary from Utah dies from cliff fall in Australia

(Photo courtesy The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Gavin Zimmerman

A Mormon missionary from Utah died Monday when he fell from a cliff in Australia.

Gavin Paul Zimmerman, 19, of West Haven, was serving in the Sydney Mission, according to a news release from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and other missionaries were “at a popular sightseeing area” Monday when Zimmerman slipped and fell.

Zimmerman appears to have fallen to his death at a whale-watching location called Cape Solander near the suburb of Kurnell. The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported a teenager was with a group of friends when he fell about 30 meters. The news outlet quoted a mayor as saying police recovered a cellphone with photographs showing the teen had been close to the edge of the cliff moments before his fall. Lifeguards retrieved him from the water but were unable to revive him, the mayor said.

The LDS Church news release said Zimmerman had served in the mission since August.

Zimmerman grew up in West Haven and Roy and attended Fremont High School, where he participated in football and track. In a statement, his parents, Raymond and Jeanette Zimmerman, said their son was a “great example.”

“He enjoyed teaching people and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the couple’s statement said. “He loved the savior Jesus Christ and his family, and we loved him. Gavin was a bright light in our lives! We are so grateful for our Father in Heaven’s plan of salvation. We know that we will be with him again one day. Our family will miss him greatly until we meet again.”

David Hales is the president of the Ogden Utah West Stake, which includes the Zimmermans’ LDS congregation. Hales said Gavin Zimmerman was a good student who began preparing to go on a mission for his church years ago.

“He was just a force of happiness,” Hales said. “He was just a bright spot in this world. Everyone loved him. He was a friend to all.”

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