A Wheaton College student who had hoped to become a minister was killed Saturday when he was accidentally struck by a hammer during a hammer-throw competition at a track meet in suburban Chicago.

Ethan Roser, a 19-year-old freshman from the Cincinnati area, was volunteering at the Wheaton, Illinois, meet when he was struck at about 4:15 p.m. Central time. Wheaton College Public Safety and paramedics were on the scene, the Chicago Tribune reported, and Roser was pronounced dead at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Illinois. An autopsy is planned for Monday.

Roser, who had transferred to the school in January, is the son of Christian missionaries and spent his early years in Africa.

“We know he’s with Jesus,” his father, the Rev. Mark Roser, told the Tribune, “and the fact that he’s in paradise is a great source of comfort to us.”

His father recalled how his son worried when the family was moving from Zimbabwe to the United States. “I said, ‘It’s the people that make the place,’ ” his father said, “and he looked at me and said, ‘But the place stays in your heart forever.’ “

Details of the accident weren’t readily available. Typically, the hammer, which weighs as much as 16 pounds, is a metal ball attached to a steel wire and an athlete spins several times before releasing it.

Wheaton College is a Christian, liberal-arts school located about 20 miles west of Chicago.