BOUNTIFUL -- The family of a Bountiful missionary who was injured in a train wreck in Spain Wednesday is hopeful that he'll be able to make a full recovery.
Elder Stephen Madison Ward, 18, a missionary with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was injured in a crash that killed 70 people and critically injured two dozen more.
Ward fractured his neck, among other injuries, when a train he was traveling in derailed while moving 80 miles per hour or faster. He has been discharged from the hospital.
Speaking by phone from La Coruna, Spain, Stephen Ward said Thursday he counts himself among the very lucky to have lived through the derailment Wednesday that killed 80 people.
He says he blacked out after he felt the train lift up from the tracks like a roller coaster. When he regained consciousness, he thought he was dreaming.
He soon realized it was real when he noticed his face was caked with blood and he heard the cries and screams of other injured people. He says he also saw dead bodies.
One source of strength for the family is learning that Ward's mission president is an orthopedic surgeon by profession.
"He flew down there and was able to look at X-rays," said Ward's father, Ray Ward. "He is helping to make sure what is going to happen to him."
The father said it is unclear whether or not Stephen Ward will need surgery to fix the fracture. Also unclear is whether or not the missionary will be able to stay in Spain for the time being.
"He's very hopeful," Ray Ward said of his son. "He's 18, of course he is hopeful. He thinks everything will turn out fine and we hope so too."
The father said Stephen Ward was on his way to his first assignment and therefore he was traveling without a companion.
He was the only missionary on the train.
Stephen Ward had been in the Madrid Missionary Training Center for six weeks prior to the accident.
Besides his fractured neck, Stephen Ward received cuts on his head, a concussion and bruises on his legs.
The father said he spoke with his son Wednesday night on the phone.
"He was quite tired but in good spirits," said the father. "He was hoping everything will turn out okay."
The father said his son was excited to receive a mission call recently to the Spain Madrid mission.
He said his son had studied Spanish in high school.
Surviving Wednesday's accident was the second time Stephen Ward has "dodged a bullet," said the father.
"He dodged death already once in his life," Ray Ward said. "Three years ago, he had cancer and almost died. He had a bone marrow transplant and spent three months in Primary Children's Medical Center.
The father said Stephen Ward suffered from Burkitt Lymphoma but has been in remission.
The family has been on vacation all week and has not been home to receive support from their neighbors and friends but Ray Ward said they have received numerous messages of concern on their cell phones.
A statement from the Church of Jesus Christ offered condolences to all those affected by the train wreck.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the train accident in Spain," said church spokesman Dale Jones.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.