Cleveland Believers mourn death of teen19-year-old drowned while on trip to Honduras
By Paris Goodnight
Members of the Cleveland Believers Fellowship are mourning the death of 19-year-old Isaac Coates, who drowned on a trip to take Bibles to the back country of Honduras.
Richard Miller, a family friend who is serving as a clearinghouse for information about the tragedy, said the accident happened Wednesday when Coates went under while swimming with other young men in the Lempa River near San Antonio, Intibuca, Honduras. When he didn’t resurface, a rescue operation went into action. But his body didn’t turn up until Thursday, when Coates’ brother-in-law found him farther downstream.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Honduras confirmed the death and said Coates’ mother, Joy, was referring phone calls for more information to relatives in North Carolina.
Miller has set up a Web site at www.xanga.com/ innerjoy, to keep friends and relatives posted on the latest updates. He said Coates’ mother is in Honduras now and a group of others from the church were in Houston on Friday on their way south.
Plans now are to bury Coates on the grounds of an American-owned clinic in Carrizal after a funeral Sunday. A memorial here will come later when everyone returns.
Miller noted he was at Port City Java on Thursday when the procession for the fallen firefighters went by Innes Street.
“I just sat there and bawled. Isaac was one of those guys ó you know how people sing the praises of someone after they’re gone? Well, they sang praises about him beforehand,” he said. “He talked about death and heaven and dying before. … He impacted everybody.”
Miller said the Coates family lived near the Iredell/ Rowan line near Cleveland. Coates’ father died a couple of years earlier. Coates’ sister, Melissa, had moved to Honduras from Rowan County a few years ago with her husband, Daniel “Junior” Troyer, and recently had a baby. They live in Erandique, about 20 minutes down the mountain from where Coates will be buried in Carrizal.
Family members had traveled there to see the new baby before a separate group went down on the Bible distribution trip, which Miller said members of Cleveland Believers Fellowship had done for three or four years. Coates was part of that group.
Miller said several Troyer brothers organized Cleveland Believers Fellowship, which doesn’t have a lead pastor but share duties among deacons. They have some ties to the Mennonites, but are not part of that community.
Miller said they had to carry Coates’ body in a hammock for three or four miles through the back country before getting to a vehicle to reach the Troyers’ house, where they arrived early Friday morning.
Miller said Matthew “Motz” Weaver is among the local folks who are on their way to Honduras. Weaver and his brother, Paul “PD” Weaver, own Amishcraft Furniture in Salisbury.
“PD” Weaver said he and his wife had become good friends with Coates recently. “I’ve got daughters who are 6, 4 and 2. He loved the children and they loved him,” he said. “I found out when it was very fresh. We don’t understand, but some things that happen in this world, we won’t understand.”
Among the comments posted on the xanga.com site was this anonymous one: “I only had the priviledge of meeting Isaac once. But I will never forget his energy. He just seemed to love life. He blessed me so much. I am praying for you all! God be with you!”
Contact Paris Goodnight at 704-797-4255 or pgoodnight@ salisburypost.com.