A volunteer for Ben Carson's campaign, 25-year-old Braden Joplin, has died after a van crash on Tuesday. Carson suspended his campaign earlier in the day after two other volunteers and a campaign employee were injured in the car accident in Iowa. According to the campaign, three passengers are being treated at a local hospital, and Joplin was transported to a trauma center in Omaha, Nebraska, for much more serious injuries. Carson traveled to Omaha to join the family of the volunteer being transported there. The other passengers in the van were released from the hospital after being treated for their injuries.
“Recognizing speculation can run rampant at times like these, fortunately we have a leader in Dr. Carson who has dealt with life-and-death challenges his entire career,” communications director Larry Ross told The Daily Beast after the crash took place. “As such, we are following his lead and only sharing information we know to be true, and will provide additional details as available and appropriate.”
After hearing the news of Joplin's passing, Ross said Carson's campaign would also be suspended tomorrow. “No determination has been made” beyond that, he said.
In Omaha, as Carson visited with Joplin’s family, he expressed the “profound loss” of the “bright, young” man.
“One of the precious few joys of campaigning is the privilege of meeting bright young men and women who are so enthusiastic about their country that they will freely give of their time and energy to work on its behalf,” Carson said in a statement provided to The Daily Beast. “America lost one of those bright young men today. I had the privilege of knowing Braden Joplin personally, and am filled with a deep and profound sadness at his passing. While we mourn this profound loss, I am thankful that our other campaign colleagues, Drew McCall, Aaron Ohnemus and Ryan Patrick Shellooe, have all been treated and released from the hospital.”
He went on to praise volunteers like Joplin as “unsung heroes of the political process.”
“Even after more than 30 years experience counseling parents and family members in the most difficult of times, it never gets easier,” Carson said. “But I find solace in the knowledge of God’s redeeming grace, and I pray that Braden’s family finds comfort in the mercy of the Lord. Across America today, I ask everyone to take a moment to reflect on the preciousness of life and remember and honor the memory of Braden Joplin.”
Candidates on both sides of the aisle mourned the loss of Joplin as well, including Bernie Sanders, who said, “Young volunteers like Braden Joplin are the heart and soul of the democratic process. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
“Praying for the family of the young Ben Carson volunteer, Braden Joplin, who was killed in a tragic car crash in IA. A life taken too soon,” Jeb Bush tweeted.
Carson is tentatively scheduled to visit Iowa this weekend as he fights to keep afloat ahead of the Feb. 1 caucus.