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Missionary couple dies in Zambia

Katrina and Jay Erickson are pictured with their children, Coral, 1, and Marina, 2.

A couple with local ties has died while doing Christian missionary work in Zambia, Africa.

Jay and Katrina Erickson died in an airplane crash June 2 in northwest Zambia. Katrina (Mansfield) Erickson grew up in the Somerset and New Richmond area and was homeschooled. She is the daughter of Doreen and Larry Mansfield, former members of First Baptist Church in New Richmond and current members of Bible Baptist Church in Hudson.

According to media reports, Jay and Katrina Erickson died after the small airplane Jay was piloting flew into a high-voltage powerline and plunged into the Zambezi River. Zambia Air Force divers later recovered the plane and the bodies.

Jay Erickson had flown three passengers earlier in the day, but then Katrina joined her husband for another trip to transport a nurse. It was reportedly Katrina's first time flying with her husband since the family had arrived in the country. The couple, who had been married since 2008, left their two children (Coral, 1, and Marina, 2) behind at the hospital while they made the trip.

The Ericksons were working with the 150-bed Chitokoloki Mission Hospital transporting sick villagers needing medical care. A pilot and airplane mechanic trained through Moody Bible Institute, Jay Erickson and his wife began a year-long mission assignment in Zambia in February.

A funeral service was held at Chitokoloki on Tuesday, June 5, and the couple was buried at the mission in Zambia.

The Mansfields traveled to Zambia, along with Jay Erickson's mother, to reunite with their granddaughters. The girls were to return to their home church in Spokane, Wash. for a memorial service in honor of their parents.

A memorial service will also be conducted at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 23, at First Baptist Church in New Richmond.