The mysterious death of a high school athlete who spent days helping his fellow Eastern Kentuckians clean up from historic floods has added a new layer of sadness to the tragedy.
On Wednesday, Aaron “Mick” Crawford was counted as the 38th person to have died in last month’s flash floods in the Appalachian region. Perry County Sheriff Joe Angle, his friend and pastor, said the teen’s death was a great loss.
The last time Angle communicated with his 18-year-old friend, Crawford asked where he could reach to help victims as flood waters rise.
For three days, the Strapping high school football player and wrestler assisted in cleaning up the flood before suddenly falling ill. He died last weekend and on Wednesday his name was officially added to the death toll as a result of the floods.
Crawford died a few days after he became ill. His mother, Rhonda Crawford, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that her son “went into cardiac arrest.”
Media outlets reported that the family still does not know the cause of Crawford’s death.
The sheriff said on the phone Wednesday that the kid who loved superheroes — even making his own costumes — and aspired to be a conservation officer, immediately wanted to help others. Last month’s deluge dropped 8 to 10.5 inches (20.3 to 26.7 cm) of rain in just 48 hours, causing floodwaters that caused widespread destruction.
“As soon as we realized we had a major disaster going on here, he sent me a message,” Engel said. “I’m not sure it even stopped raining until he sent me a message on Facebook. He said, ‘Want to know where to go. Wanted to know where to help.'”
“And that was actually the last time I talked to him.”
Visiting Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshearé Said that the death of the teenager has been added to the number of deaths due to floods. A relief fund set up by the governor for the stricken area will pay for funeral expenses for Crawford’s family, as it does for the families of other victims. Beshear said Kentuckians grieve for the teens and “each of the 38 individuals lost.”
Meanwhile, Kentucky lawmakers are drafting legislation to provide relief for the devastated region. Asked Wednesday about progress on the measure, state Senate President Robert Stivers replied: “We’re getting there.” In anticipation of a special legislative session, which is likely to be held within the next month, a bill draft is being circulated among the MPs, in anticipation of a special legislative session.
“Whenever he’s ready, we’ll be ready to go,” House Speaker Pro Tem David Meade said on Wednesday.
On Monday, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden saw some destruction for themselves as they toured the region to meet with families and first responders. The president said the nation had an obligation to help all its people, declaring that the federal government would provide aid until residents were back on their feet.
As the cleaning continues, so is the grief. Crawford’s funeral is on Thursday.
Crawford, then known as “Mick”, lived in Jeff, a town in Perry County. Engle, who was the youngster’s pastor at Blair Memorial Baptist Church, said Crawford was “a pleasure to be around.” Angle recalled that Crawford would sometimes use his wrestling moves on him, until his mother told him to “take it easy, you’re gonna hurt the preacher.”
But he was also serious about his Bible study, the sheriff said.
“He was well ahead of his years when it came to his spiritual side,” Engle said. “He was like a wise, old man spiritually. He knew his Bible. He went to Sunday school classes but he could probably teach some of those Sunday school classes. What a good Bible knowledge he was. “
The sheriff said Crawford’s family told him that after three days of assisting in cleaning up the flood, Crawford came home exhausted, complaining that his hands felt heavy, the sheriff said. According to media reports, he was finally put on ventilator.
Angle will speak at the funeral, but another pastor will take over. Angle said he didn’t think he could “make it through the service and be able to get through without crying and getting a message. We were so close.”
“He’s a superhero to me,” Angle said.