Two Duluth pastors believe their son was killed in a collapsed building in the earthquake in Haiti.
Benjamin Larson was a student at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, and was spending his January term in Haiti. His parents, the Revs. April Ulring Larson and Judd Larson are both Lutheran pastors in Duluth.
Robert Vokes, an assistant to Ulring Larson at First Lutheran Church in Duluth, said Benjamin's death hasn't been confirmed. Benjamin was with his wife, Renee Splichal Larson, and cousin, Jonathan Larson, when the earthquake hit. Renee and Jonathan were unharmed and were on their way back to Minnesota, Vokes said.
"The son, we think, has died. We're not 100 percent certain, but the other two had to be evacuated," Vokes said. Renee and Jonathan had tried to go back to find Benjamin, but they were told it was too dangerous, he said.
"It's one of these awful situations where we need presume that he's dead," Vokes said. "It's very difficult to get any real formal information or definitive information from Haiti right now."
Ulring Larson told the Duluth News Tribune there wasn't any hope her son escaped the collapse at St. Joseph's Home for Boys on a mountainside in Port-au-Prince.
"No. I don't think so. And if he could have, he would have found a way to his wife,'' she told the newspaper.
According to Wartburg Theological Seminary President Duane Larson, Benjamin and Jonathan were invited to teach lay leaders at a Lutheran church in Haiti, and Renee was conducting interviews for her thesis.
"Ben's baptismal light burned so brightly in our community and for all who came to know him," Duane Larson said in a statement posted on the seminary's Web site.
First Lutheran Church planned a worship service Thursday evening for community members to pray for the Larsons and others affected by the earthquake in Haiti.
"This is not just a local situation. People throughout the world are suffering for this, and there are so many people who are impacted by it," Vokes said.
Rafael Malpica, executive director of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's Global Mission Unit, has told the Larsons they will do everything they can to find Ben and bring him home.