US missionary drowns in Nicaragua

A 22-year-old U.S. missionary who drowned last week off Nicaragua’s Pacific coast is being laid to rest on Saturday in his hometown in Kentucky.

Nathan Fouts (courtesy photo)

Nathan Fouts, who arrived to Nicaragua on May 6 as part of a Pentecostal mission trip to help build a youth camp in Matagalpa, drowned three days later while swimming with friends somewhere off Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, said Fouts’ brother-in-law, Jake Hillen, who spoke on behalf of the family. Hillen was unclear about where the accident occurred. The U.S. Embassy did not answer a request for more specific information by press time.

“He couldn’t feel the bottom. The missionary tried to help everyone out of the water, but when they did a head count, they realized Nathan was still out there,” Hillen told The Nicaragua Dispatch today in a phone interview from Kentucky.

Fouts was later pulled ashore by a surfer and rushed to a hospital, but he “didn’t make it,” Hillen said.

Fouts’ family says Nicaraguan investigators told them turbulent waters were caused by a small earthquake off the coast of Costa Rica.

Fouts worked as a minister at churches in Kentucky and Indianapolis after graduating from Bible school nearly a year ago. His trip to Nicaragua with the group Abundant Life Missions International was scheduled to last less than one week, just enough to get a taste for on-the-ground missionary work, Hillen says.

“Nathan wrote a note in his Bible with goals he wanted to complete in his life,” Hillen said. “He wanted to work with young people to bring them to know Christ and inspire others to do the same.”

To honor his memory, Fouts’ heart was buried in a tabernacle at the youth camp being built in Matagalpa. Fouts is survived by his sister Jessica, 23, his mother Michelle, and his father Timothy, who is a pastor in Kentucky.



  • Jim Lynch

    Buried his heart in Matagalpa???

  • Dave C

    Somewhere in N. Nicaragua????Turbulent waters caused by an earthquake in Costa Rica?????? He couldn’t feel the bottom??? Is this from Fox News?

  • Kelvin

    My information (from another Christian group working here) is that he could not swim. It was dusk, if not later and he was with someone who was showing him how to jump through the waves as they crashed on the beach (Majagual or north end of Maderas where they were staying, it matters not exactly where). A rip current caught him and dragged him out to sea. Sad, but probably a more realistic explanation than the phantom CR earthquake story.

  • jo

    Yes he could swim, he got caught in a rip tide. Regardlessof the cause it is a trajic event for these people

  • jo

    This information from the group that was with him