Peace Corps volunteer from Minnesota killed in Tanzania bus crash

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Robert Lehman was living out his dream when he was killed in a bus crash in southwestern Tanzania over the weekend.

The 23-year-old from the Twin Cities was in Tanzania with the Peace Corps, working as a community health volunteer, when the bus he was riding crashed, the Peace Corps said in a news release.

“Robbie dedicated his life to serving others,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “He cared deeply for those around him, whether they lived across the street or around the world. He knew no boundaries and was willing to take on anything. The entire Peace Corps family is devastated by this tragic loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Lehman family.”

Lehman's mother, Dr. Dawn Martin, told the Star Tribune he was traveling with three other Peace Corps volunteers back to their villages Sunday when the bus they were on crashed.

Lehman was one of at least three people killed in the crash, the Pesa Times reported, when the bus tried to pass a vehicle, but hit another bus and rolled several times before coming to a rest.

Lehman was ejected from the bus and pronounced dead at the scene, the Star Tribune says. The other volunteers were treated for their injuries at a local hospital.

“There wasn’t a better match for the Peace Corps, in my eyes,” Martin told the newspaper. “He had the spirit of compassion and he had the spirit of adventure. … He yearned for this.”

A volunteer and teacher

Lehman graduated from Edina High School in 2010 and went on to study biology at St. Olaf College, where he was also a merit scholar, the school said in a news release.

Before going to Tanzania, he Lehman worked with people living with HIV/AIDS in his community and learned Swahili on his own, the news release says. He also taught Minnesota elementary school students about environmental protection, volunteered in the emergency room of local hospitals and traveled around the United States to work with underserved communities.

A memorial service is planned for Sunday at 2 p.m. at Judson Memorial Baptist Church in Minneapolis, his obituary says. Lehman's family asks that memorials be directed to the Peace Corps Partnership Program, St. Olaf College or the TRUST Youth Group at Judson Memorial Baptist Church.

Those who worked with Lehman in Tanzania and others who knew him shared their condolences on social media following his death.

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