LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When the devastating floods hit Perry County and 12 other Eastern Kentucky counties on July 26, Aaron "Mick" Crawford was ready to help.
Crawford, who had just turned 18, assisted flood victims for three days before he suddenly began to feel ill, said his mother, Ronda Crawford, in a Facebook post.
He was taken to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, where he was placed on a ventilator for four days before he died Friday.
Crawford's cousin, Nix Ritchie, said he didn't have any prior health conditions.
"It came out of nowhere," Ritchie told The Courier Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network. "We were still reeling from the flood and the next thing I know, I hear he’s in the ICU two hours away."
The family still does not know what caused Crawford's death — and they may never know. Crawford's sister, Rachel Crawford, said they chose to donate his organs, which meant an autopsy couldn't be performed.
While it was a difficult decision, Rachel Crawford said the family knew knowing what happened wouldn't bring him back. But maybe his organs, she said, could make sure someone else stayed alive.
"Mick had an amazing heart and would give anyone anything they asked from him. It’s what he would want," Ronda Crawford wrote on Facebook.
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'His main goal in life was to leave the world better than he found it'
Many of Crawford's friends said the only thing he loved more than playing football and wrestling was his faith.
"He used to embarrass me because he would stop and pray for people who he didn't know anywhere," Rachel Crawford said. "He was the Christian I will always aspire to be. He was the person I will always aspire to be."
His friends described him as having a gentle spirit, big heart and sense of humor.
“His main goal in life was to leave the world better than he found it," Ritchie said. "He didn’t care who you were or what you did — he still had faith in you and wanted you to be happy.”
Crawford also loved hunting and had dreams of being a conservation officer. With his quick wit and desire to make people laugh, though, his sister joked he would often say that he "didn't know if he could put those tiny handcuffs on squirrels."
Angela Hall Thornsberry, one of Crawford's teachers at Knott County Central High School, said on Facebook, "He was so intelligent and interesting to talk to. He will be greatly missed and I'm glad to have known him."
Ritchie said they have fond memories of growing up with Crawford, who often went out of his way to help people even as a child.
“I know he ... used his faith to help better himself and others. He genuinely loved life and everyone around him,” they said. “As long as I knew him he never judged another soul.”
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: After Eastern Kentucky flooding, teen dies after helping clean up