Spokane missionaries die in Zambia crash


The Ericksons, of Spokane, died in Zambia this weekend/Contributed photo
The Ericksons, of Spokane, died in Zambia this weekend/Contributed photo

On April 20 the Erickson’s wrote a blog post together about their family’s new life in Zambia.

Jay, Katrina and their two young children moved there from Spokane earlier this year to serve as missionaries after Jay was asked to serve as a pilot for Chitokoloki Mission Hospital.

They lived 300 yards from the hangar, where Jay parked a six-seater, Cessna 206 airplane — an aircraft he learned to fly at Moody Aviation in Spokane. He graduated in 2010.

Also on April 20, Jay wrote a post he titled, “Pondering Death.”

“Oddly enough, I (Jay) have been pondering the concept of death since arriving at Chitokoloki. Living next door to a bush hospital, we hear quite clearly the wails of mourning with each death. ,” he wrote. “…It warms my heart to hear the frequent and fervent preaching of the Gospel here. Perhaps it is the real presence of death here that we seem so surgically removed from in the USA which is the motivation.  At any rate, I hope it will inspire me to get over those inhibitions which so easily hinder me from speaking. I will close with a quote from C.S. Lewis which is at the foundation of my thinking: ‘You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body. And I know that when this body dies, my soul will get a new one.”

It’s that blog post, perhaps the final one written by Jay, that’s bringing friends comfort as they mourn his and Katrina’s death, said Jack Lewis, campus dean of Moody Bible Institute-Spokane.

DIvers recover crashed airplane flown by Jay Erickson/courtesy Chitokoloki Mission Hospital
DIvers recover crashed airplane flown by Jay Erickson/courtesy Chitokoloki Mission Hospital

The couple was killed Saturday when the Cessna aircraft Jay was piloting hit power lines and crashed into Zambezi River. It was the first time Katrina had accompanied Jay on a flight in Zambia, according to the hospital’s website.

The couple’s children, ages 3 and 1, were not in the aircraft at the time of the accident.

Jay and Katrina's bodies were recovered and were buried at the mission hospital. A funeral is planned for Tuesday.

On Monday morning Moody students and faculty met for a chapel service and prayed for the Erickson family.

“I remember his smile,” Lewis said. “He was a lively kind of student. His family had a strong history in mission. It was a part of his DNA. I’m sure upon reflection nobody regrets he earned his (aviation) license, though they regret what happened. It was a risk he willingly took. He committed his life to a good project.”

Jay's brother is also a Moody graduate.

Lewis said the school may host a memorial, though details have not yet been arranged.


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Lace Williams-Tinajero

My prayers of mercy go out to those affected by this accident and loss of life, especially Jay and Katrina’s two children.

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