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Worker in Honduras survives bullet wound from holdup

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (BP)–Baptist worker Patsy Dietz is in good condition after being shot during a robbery in Honduras.

Dietz and her husband, Raymond, have served as North Carolina Baptists’ on-site partnership coordinators for southern Honduras since disaster relief efforts began there following Hurricane Mitch in late 1998.

On Sept. 23, the Dietzes were driving two separate vehicles as they transported a group of volunteers from the airport in Tegucigalpa to the southern city of Choluteca, where the Dietzes have a home and host volunteers in a backyard bunkhouse. Most of the volunteers were from a church in Virginia, though the team leader was Chuck Headden, a member of Cape Carteret Baptist Church in North Carolina’s Atlantic Baptist Association.

Choluteca is a three-and-a-half to four-hour drive south of Tegucigalpa, down a narrow and winding mountain road where slow-moving trucks and buses are common. Raymond Dietz, three men and much of the team’s luggage traveled in a truck-type SUV. Patsy Dietz and eight other volunteers, both men and women, followed in a van.

About halfway through the journey, the vehicles became separated by traffic. A truck carrying three armed bandits forced Raymond Dietz’s truck off the road, according to Richard Brunson, executive director for North Carolina’s Baptist Men and partnership missions. The bandits then robbed Dietz and the three male volunteers at gunpoint.

Patsy Dietz and the other volunteers slowly approached the scene in the van and then sped up when she realized what was happening. One of the bandits fired a shot through the rear window. The bullet missed all the passengers but struck Dietz on the back of her head. According to Brunson, the bullet traveled beneath the skin and exited through her jaw without breaking any bones. Dietz remained conscious and managed to stop the van safely. As other vehicles approached, the robbers fled without robbing any of the van’s passengers.

Dietz was driven to a town where an ambulance was available, then taken to the North American Hospital in Tegucigalpa. The volunteer team followed the ambulance back to Tegucigalpa and returned home the next day. Dietz was expected to be released from the hospital Sept. 30, Brunson said.

News of the event was kept under wraps until family members could be notified.

The Dietzes, from the western North Carolina community of Webster, participated in many mission trips to Honduras during the 1990s, developing such a love for the country and its people that they bought a home in Choluteca. The home was flooded when Hurricane Mitch struck in 1998. The storm killed thousands of people through flooding and mudslides.

As North Carolina Baptist Men disaster relief teams began their work in Honduras, the Dietzes were recruited to help coordinate partnership work in the country, especially in the southern area around Choluteca. To host volunteers working around Choluteca, the Dietzes allowed North Carolina Baptist Men to build a bunkhouse adjacent to their home. The partnership began as a disaster relief and recovery effort but was expanded in 2001 to include other humanitarian and evangelistic efforts.

The Dietzes have hosted as many as 2,000 of the 5,000 partnership volunteers, Brunson said, winning lasting admiration for their kindness and commitment to the people of Honduras.

“We are thankful for all they have done for North Carolina and Honduran Baptists,” Brunson said, “and we ask everyone to pray for them.”

    About the Author

  • Tony W. Cartledge