CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Charlotte teen serving as a missionary in California was killed Thursday when he was hit by a car while riding his bike.
Andrew Edward Page, 18, graduated from Independence High School last spring, and was excited to start missionary work right away, according to his family.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, of which Page was a member, had just lowered the minimum age for male missionaries from 19 to 18, making Andrew eligible right after high school. Members often serve as missionaries for two years in their late teens or early 20’s.
“His whole entire life was really focused on sharing the gospel that made him so happy,” said his mother, Maggie Page. “From the time he was little, at my knee, he always wanted to be a missionary, like his dad had been.”
Andrew had played tenor saxophone in the Patriots’ Band, and was a member of the school’s JROTC, National Honor Society, and Boy Scouts of America.
And just two months after graduation, he got the call to be a missionary.
“He was ready and so excited,” said his mother.
She recalls the pain of parting at the airport, when she knew he would be away from home longer than he ever had been before. “I was so full of love and appreciation that he was worthy to go and ready to go and ready to serve, but inside my heart was breaking a little bit,” she said.
“The selfish part of me, of course -- we want to keep our kids close and keep them from harm's way -- but that's not the plan,” she continued, choking up. “The plan is to let them go so they can grow and so they can learn and do things that they need to do.”
Thursday night, she got a call from the bishop of her area church. He son was in a Los Angeles-area hospital with critical injuries. He had been in California for just three weeks.
Andrew and another missionary were riding their bikes on a street in Azusa – about 25 miles east of Los Angeles – when Andrew turned into the path of a car and was hit.
Police told the family it appeared to be an accident, and the driver was not charged. Even though Andrew was wearing a helmet, he died of head and bodily injuries.
“I know he wouldn't want to leave us,” she said through her tears, “but I know that there's another plan, there's another purpose and that he's okay.”
Andrew’s sister Ashleigh Goniea, who is expecting a child, grieved for the loss of her little brother, and the uncle her children would have had.
“My children aren't going to have that role model that I really wanted them to have,” she said.
Andrew’s mother said the family finds peace in thinking of his passing as a new mission, and a new focus to live their lives like he would.
“He wanted people to know what brought him the most joy and that was the reassurance that his family was forever,” she said, “that we're not just placed on this earth for some random experiment -- that were actually placed here to learn and grow, and one day return to our Heavenly Father.”
Andrew’s funeral will be next Saturday at 11 a.m., at the LDS church at 2500 Rocky River Road in Charlotte.