By Rob McDaniel
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — South Laurel High School graduate, Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Austin, a soldier in the United States Air Force, died Tuesday, Aug. 6, in Maidstone, England.
British Transport Police Officers said Austin came in contact with a live railway track at the Maidstone East railway station and was electrocuted. Police said the accident was non-suspicious.
Austin, 25, of Corbin was assigned to the 1st Communications Maintenance Squadron, which falls under the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing at Ramstein Air Base, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.
In a statement posted Thursday, Aug. 8, on Ramstein’s website and Facebook page, Col. Joseph D. McFall, the 435th Commander said: “We come together during this time of loss to support each other and are thoughts are with Staff Sgt. Austin’s family and friends.”
His wife, Jessica, is pregnant with their first child, a baby boy who will be born next month.
His younger brother, Nathan, said Ryan had been in the Air Force for more than three years, and was a real patriotic soldier who served his country with pride and passion.
“He loved putting on his uniform and following the Air Force code. Being with them was the best career move he ever made. The Air Force gave him the chance to go overseas, learn new cultures and serve his country just like our father did. It made him feel he gave something back to his country, as well as protect America,” Nathan noted.
The brothers were raised in Laurel County; both graduated from South Laurel High School. Nathan recalled that growing up together they shared a lot of fun experiences.
“When Ryan was around, he was fun to be with. We included each other in our hobbies like tennis, basketball and video games. We had our friends and we always had great times,” he said.
Nathan said his brother dated Jessica, a native of Florence in Boone County, for about three years, and were married for three years. He mentioned both Ryan and Jessica were looking forward to being parents for the first time.
Jessica recently found out she is going to have a boy and is scheduled to be induced on Sept. 22. The baby will be born in Kentucky and will be named Brayden Kaine Austin.
Before graduating from South Laurel High School in 2006, Ryan worked as a teacher’s aide for Joey Marcum, a science teacher at South.
“Ryan was such an awesome young man,” Marcum said. “He was honest, hard working and dependable. You could depend on him for literally anything. He was just a real good guy.”
Ryan Austin’s youth pastor at West Corbin Baptist Church, Daniel Carmack, remembers him as the kind of person who always wanted to help others.
“Ryan was a kid that always served others; you never had to worry about him,” Carmack said. “His friends always wanted him to be around. He was the kind of guy that would walk into a room, find that one person sitting alone and would befriend them. That’s just how Ryan was. He was well liked.
“As he got older and joined the service and got married, he continued to serve people,” Carmack continued. “I’m sure the people he served with looked up to Ryan; it was hard not to look up to him, he was just that kind of guy. Losing Ryan is not just a loss to the family, it’s a loss to the military and our community. He was a great man, a great soldier and a loving husband. I’m very proud of how he turned out.”
“Ryan will be missed by his family, by the community he was raised in, and by everyone he knew and his life touched,” said his brother, Nathan Austin.
Funeral arrangements for Ryan D. Austin have been made at Corbin Funeral Home. For a full obituary see page 6A of this edition of The Sentinel-Echo.
CNHI staff writer Jeff Noble contributed to this story.