Breaking News:

CORONAVIRUS

Utah County Missionary’s Time Cut Short By Wildfires, Then Coronavirus

Apr 7, 2020, 6:08 PM | Updated: 8:11 pm

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah – One Utah County missionary, whose service was cut short by devastating wildfires in Australia, has returned home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Derek Leetham has caught himself staring at the mountains near his Pleasant Grove home more than once over the past few days.

“It’s always good to be back here,” he said while looking out his bedroom window at the snowy peaks.

As much as he loves the mountains though, he was missing Australia and its people on Tuesday.

“It’s incredible there,” said Leetham. “It’s seriously, like, just the best. The people are amazing.”

Leetham was serving a mission in Sydney, Australia, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

However, he returned home because that mission was cut short due to coronavirus concerns.

“I’m really bummed out, to be honest. I fully understand that is what’s needed to happen for our safety and just for what’s happening right now. It’s what’s best for us,” he said during an interview Tuesday afternoon outside his bedroom window.

Leetham was quarantined at home for 14 days once he arrived in Utah, just to be on the safe side.

“It’s hard just being stuck inside, especially in this nice weather,” he said. “But we have to do it to be safe.”

However, his mother sure was happy to have him home.

“It’s been fun to see his smile and his laugh, hear his laugh,” Shannon Leetham said. “It’s been nice to have him around again.”

Especially since this wasn’t the first time Derek Leetham was evacuated from his mission.

Just a few months ago, he was evacuated from his mission due to the devastating wildfires that engulfed large parts of Australia.

“Yeah, it’s been hectic,” Leetham said with a slight laugh. “Man, I don’t even know how to explain it. I just woke up one, and right as I wake up, I can usually see the sun. And it was just black. Then I soon realized there were fires all around me.”

Leetham and his companions were moved to Sydney until it was safe to return.

Once they were able to get back to their mission south of Sydney, they figured there was no way anything else that big could happen again.

“Yeah, I didn’t think anything else could go wrong. I was like, alright, the fires are out, I’m going back to get things going and get work going, and then the next minute, not as planned,” he said.

On Tuesday, Leetham was just hoping he’ll be able to go back at some point.

“Oh yeah. I want to finish that 15 months so bad,” he said. “I’ll be so excited for when I can do that again.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Coronavirus

FILE - The Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 4, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott A...

Associated Press

Supreme Court rejects COVID-19 vaccine appeals from nonprofit founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The Supreme Court has rejected two appeals related to COVID-19 vaccines from Children’s Health Defense, the anti-vaccine nonprofit founded by independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

22 days ago

FILE - Comirnaty, a new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination booster for COVID-19, is displayed at a pharmac...

Jen Christensen, CNN

The FDA tells COVID-19 vaccine makers to update shot to target newest variant

The US Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it had advised the makers of the Covid-19 vaccines to formulate their new shots to be a better match for the JN.1 lineage of the coronavirus.

1 month ago

(FILE) A test dummy getting hit by an air bag during a crash test....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Thousands of cars equipped with faulty airbags on Utah roads as automakers issues ‘Do Not Drive’ warnings

Auto manufacturers have recalled over millions of Takata airbags because of their potential to explode and shoot out sharp metal fragments. And there are still thousands of those in cars across Utah.

1 month ago

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 03: Dr. Anthony Fauci, former Director of the National Institute of Allergy a...

Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

Fauci testifies publicly before House panel on COVID origins, controversies

Dr. Anthony Fauci is facing heated questioning from Republican lawmakers about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

1 month ago

A sign reminding Copper Hills High School students and staff to keep their hands clean during the c...

Lindsay Aerts

Utah school districts working to prioritize what stays when COVID relief money runs dry

Utah's school districts are working to figure out how they will continue to pay for programs propped up by COVID-19 relief funds.

2 months ago

FILE: Former Utah Jazz John Stockton reacts during a 76-70 Wichita State win over the Gonzaga Bulld...

Michael Houck

Former Utah Jazz star John Stockton sues Washington medical director about COVID misinformation policy

Former Utah Jazz superstar John Stockton has filed a federal lawsuit against Washington officials on First Amendment violations, arguing the state's policy of COVID-19 misinformation is unconstitutional.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Utah County Missionary’s Time Cut Short By Wildfires, Then Coronavirus