The mysterious death of a high school athlete who spent days helping his compatriots in eastern Kentucky clean up historic flooding has added a new layer of grief to the tragedy.
On Wednesday, Aaron “Mick” Crawford was counted as the 38th person to die as a result of flash flooding that swept away homes and swallowed communities in the Appalachia region last month. The teenager’s death is a devastating loss, said Perry County Sheriff Joe Engle, his friend and pastor.
The last time Engle communicated with his 18-year-old friend, Crawford asked where he could step in to help victims when the flood waters came to the surface.
Joe Biden surveys Kentucky flood damage as more storms roll in
The strapping high school football player and wrestler spent three days helping with the flood cleanup before suddenly falling ill. He died late last week and was officially added to the death toll from Wednesday’s flooding.
Crawford’s death came a few days after falling ill. His mother, Ronda Crawford, told the Lexington Herald-Leader her son “went into cardiac arrest.”
The family still don’t know what caused Crawford’s death, media reported.
The boy, who loved superheroes — even sewed his own costumes — and aspired to be a conservation officer, immediately wanted to help others when rain swept the region, the sheriff said by phone Wednesday. Last month’s deluge dropped 8 to 10.5 inches (20.3 to 26.7 centimeters) of rain in just 48 hours, triggering flooding that wreaked massive destruction.
“As soon as we understood there was a major disaster going on here, he messaged me,” Engle said. “I’m not sure if it had stopped raining when he messaged me on Facebook. He said: “Want to know where to go. Want to know where to help.”
“And that was actually the last time I spoke to him.”
Kentucky floods: 3 still missing, no new deaths as hundreds remain homeless
Visiting eastern Kentucky on Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear said the teen’s death was added to the death toll from the floods. A relief fund set up by the governor for the affected region will pay funeral expenses for Crawford’s family, as well as the families of other victims. Beshear said Kentuckians are mourning the loss of the teenager and “each of the 38 lost individuals.”
Woman missing since 1980, lived outside of Canada at all times, recently died: Ottawa police
Experts warn that the ArriveCAN app could violate constitutionally protected rights
Meanwhile, Kentucky lawmakers are crafting legislation to help the devastated region. When asked Wednesday about progress on the measure, Senate President Robert Stivers replied, “We’re getting there.” A bill is being circulated among lawmakers in anticipation of a special legislative session that Beshear plans to call next month.
“Whenever he’s ready, we’ll be ready to go,” House Speaker Pro Tem David Meade said Wednesday.
On Monday, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden saw some of the destruction firsthand as they visited the region to meet with families and first responders. The president said the nation has an obligation to help all people and said the federal government will provide support until residents are back on their feet.
More rainstorms hit Kentucky as the flood death toll rose to 37
As the cleanup continues, so does the grief. Crawford’s funeral is Thursday.
Crawford, known as “Mick,” lived in Jeff, a town in Perry County. Engle, pastor of the youth at Blair Memorial Baptist Church, said Crawford was “a pleasure to be here”. Engle recalled that Crawford would sometimes use his wrestling moves on him until his mother told him to “don’t calm down, you’re going to hurt the preacher.”
But he was also serious about his Bible studies, the sheriff said.
“He was way beyond his years when it came to his spiritual side,” Engle said. “He was sort of a wise old man spiritually. He knew his Bible. He would go to the Sunday School class, but he could probably teach some of those Sunday School classes. That was how well versed he was in the Bible.”
Crawford’s family told him that after three days of helping with the flood cleanup, Crawford came home exhausted and complained that his arms felt heavy, the sheriff said. According to media reports, he was finally put on a ventilator.
Engle will speak at the funeral, but another pastor will lead the service. Engle said he didn’t think he could “get through the service and endure it without crying and being able to deliver a message. We were already that close.”
“He’s a superhero to me,” Engle said.
© 2022 The Canadian Press
https://globalnews.ca/news/9052012/teen-kentucky-flood/ Teen who suddenly fell ill adds to Kentucky flood death toll – National