Posted by: calloftheandes | May 19, 2012

Traffic Accident in Ecuador Leaves 2 Christian Television Staff Dead

Two staff members from a Christian television network died and a third was injured in a two vehicle accident on Thursday, May 17, west of the city of Cuenca, Ecuador.

Fabiola Ampuero (front left) one year ago at an anniversary celebration of Unsión Television. (photo used with permission of El Comercio)

Their vehicle, a Vitara, collided with an Hino truck at a curve in the highway between Andean highlands city of Cuenca and the coastal port city of Guayaquil. Following the crash sometime between 4 and 6 p.m., cameraman Pedro Jara Ávila, 24, died in an ambulance en route to a hospital at Naranjal and television program host Fabiola Ampuero Hunter, 32, died at the hospital.

Pedro Jara, who would have turned 25 on Sunday May 20, according to a news report.

Hoy cited police reports as saying that the driver of the car was Johannes Herrera, 34, now hospitalized in critical condition in Cuenca. The truck driver, José Reyes, initially fled the scene but reported to police later, according to the newspaper. “The sector where the accident occurred is San José de Guarumales, an area characterized by permanent fog,” reported the Guayaquil newspaper, El Universo.

Co-workers at the television station confirmed the deaths via their Twitter accounts, and the station temporarily suspended programming Thursday evening to mourn the loss. A black ribbon appears on the station’s website to announce the deaths of Ampuero and Jara, accompanied by the phrase, “Our prayers are that God would fill the families with peace and hope.”

Ampuero, who had an 11-year-old daughter, hosted the En Familia (In Family) program on Television Unsión (anointed television) in Cuenca. Interviewed by El Tiempo in November 2011, she said that “Unsión allows the balance between family and work. I’ve worked eight years on En Familia doing interviews. I also serve as a master of ceremonies, and I participated in an episode of the soap opera Fanatikda.” She had emceed an event in Guayaquil, with plans to travel with Jara to Cuenca on a plane but they missed their flight. Instead they were returning to Cuenca with Hererra, said to be Ampuero’s boyfriend, when the accident occurred.

Unsión had leased the offices, studios and satellite space segment at HCJB Global’s television production ministry, Televozandes, in Quito for several years before moving to Cuenca. Facing challenges several years ago when fire destroyed the studio and editing suites, the network continued broadcasting family-oriented and Christian programming despite the adversities.

A year ago, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa used Unsión’s facilities to deliver his weekly national radio address. Despite his high-profile tangles with numerous of Ecuador’s private media, Correa praised Unsión as “a television station of values, ethics and transparency. Other stations should follow the example of Unsión.” Station Manager Bill McDonald presented Correa and his wife with New Testaments.

Pastor Bill McDonald with Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa.

“Fabiola won the heart of Unsión and of Cuenca,” said Eduardo González, the televisión channel’s executive president. She began as a reporter on En Familia, but soon was asked to join in as one of four regular hosts on the morning show. Pastor Bill Mc Donald, president of the Unsión Foundation, characterized Ambuero as “a person of faith, the joy of the channel, very funny and committed to people.”
In the late 2011 newspaper interview by El Tiempo, Ampuero was asked what advice she would offer people. “My best advice would be to cling to God,” the young television program host responded. “He will never fail. People are passing but He is always there.”

Sources: HCJB Global, Unsión, El Tiempo. El Universo, Hoy

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