Sentinel-Echo.com

Local News

May 15, 2008

Teachers, students mourn death of 19-year-old

North Laurel’s Austin Cromer falls off cliff along north U.S. 25

North Laurel High School staff and students mourn the loss of one of their own. Austin Cromer, of Hazel Patch Road, died Saturday after falling from a cliff.

Cromer was a senior at the school, although was not set to graduate this year.

Math teacher Kristie Harris remembers her student fondly.

“He was a very bright young man who had a lot of potential,” she said. “He had a natural aptitude for math — he always just knew the answers. Ever respectful, Austin cared for the feelings of others. He never met a stranger.”

Principal Mike Black said Cromer was a nice boy.

“He was a polite young man, kind of quiet,” he said. “A young man with a unique personality.”

Black said Cromer was not involved in any extracurricular activities, but “had a great deal of friends.”

“A great deal of students have been seeing counselors today,” Black said.

“It’s tragic when anyone loses their lives — especially when a teenager loses their life,” he added.

Around 1:30 a.m. May 10, Cromer, 19, was one of a group of six to nine teenagers riding in the bed of a gold Sonoma pickup truck on an unnamed road off north U.S. 25, Laurel County Sheriff’s Head Detective Charles Loomis said.

When the truck pulled onto the highway, Kentucky State Police troopers Fred Pennington and Darren Allen, who had already stopped a car that had also come from that road, saw it. When the driver — Leroy Davidson, 18 — saw the troopers, he put the truck in reverse and went back down the road.

Pennington pursued.

“When he turned his blue lights on, the truck stopped and they bailed out,” Loomis said. “Some went left, some went right.”

Cromer, along with several others, went left in the northerly direction.

“He cut into the woods earlier than some, which put him in the direction of a high cliff,” Loomis said.

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