Surviving the train accident in Spain wasn't the first time that Elder Stephen Ward, 18, has had to battle for his life. In a live interview with CNN, Elder Ward spoke from Spain about his past and about the tragedy he most recently endured.
After confirming that the 6-foot-6 teenager from Bountiful, Utah, had been able to contact with his family and was doing well, the CNN correspondent began to ask Elder Ward to describe his experience on the express train that derailed Wednesday killing 80 and injurying many more. The young missionary shared his thoughts, explaining that the initial scene he saw was devastating.
"I didn't really feel like the walking dead, I looked like the walking dead — and many people did," Elder Ward said in the interview. "Everyone was covered in blood, I've got staples all over my scalp. I was covered in blood, they scrubbed most of it off me. Everyone was covered with blood and the blood of others. It was gruesome."
Elder Ward then described that only four years ago, he faced another form of physical trama when he was diagnosed with a rare cancer called Burkitt's lymphoma. During that experience, Elder Ward said, he came close to death several times.
"I had it once, it came back, I beat the odds there and (I'm) grateful to live through another brush with death now," Elder Ward said.
The new missionary who had just left the Madrid Missionary Training Center after his first six weeks, having given his farewell talk in an LDS chapel on June 9, was then asked if he still desires to continue on with his LDS mission.
"I absolutely want to stay on my mission in Spain," Elder Ward said. "I'm so proud to be out here representing my church, proud to be representing Jesus Christ, and I'm so glad that I've been left alive without permanent injury. I very much plan on staying out here. Missions are usually two years for young men, and I plan on serving the full two."
Elder Ward's family announced Thursday that their son was released from a local hospital after being treated for his injuries.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company