Posted: Jul 11, 2012 2:03 PM
Updated: Jul 11, 2012 4:51 PM
Former high school teacher and state lawmaker Dewayne Bunch, who suffered a critical brain injury while trying to break up a high school fight back in April 2011, has died, according to Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell.
Bunch, 50, was injured trying to break up a fight between two students on April 12, 2011 in the cafeteria at Whitley County High School in Williamsburg, where he taught math for 17 years. Bunch was knocked unconscious after hitting his head on the cafeteria floor after being punched.
Bunch, who spent months in rehab following the incident in both Lexington and a facility in Atlanta, died at Oak Tree Hospital in Corbin.
After being injured, Bunch eventually resigned his state representative seat from Whitley and Laurel County, a seat in which his wife, Regina, replaced him in. The Whitley and Laurel County Democratic parties opted not to run a candidate in opposition, citing the unlikelihood of beating Regina Bunch.
"The Lord is not in politics, but I believe if Jesus was walking the earth today he would have chosen her." Democratic Party chair Donnie Whitt said at the time.
Governor Steve Beshear released a statement Wednesday, saying, ""Jane and I were very sorry to hear of the passing of former Representative Dewayne Bunch. In his time with us in Frankfort, he shared many of our goals for a better Kentucky, especially in improving education. He was a dedicated teacher and legislator, and he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, particularly his wife Regina, who is serving admirably in her husband's position as state legislator."
The leadership in the state house of representatives released a statement also, saying, "On behalf of House Republican Leadership, we are sorry to report that former State Representative DeWwayne Bunch passed away earlier today. We will let you know when additional information becomes available.
We know you join in keeping his wife, State Representative Regina Bunch and the entire family in your thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time."
House Speaker Greg Stumbo said in a statement, "On behalf of the Kentucky House, I want to extend condolences to the Bunch family during this difficult time and want them to know they are in our thoughts and prayers. Dewayne showed tremendous potential as a legislator, and his wife Regina has done an outstanding job in serving the remainder of his term."
A statement from Whitley County Judge/Executive Pat White, Jr. read, "It is truly a tragedy for this family and the entire community. Dewayne brought an energetic desire to the office of State Representative to better this region. Our thoughts and prayers will be with his family."
A page dedicated to Bunch's recovery had been set up on Facebook and had included updates on his condition. About 5,000 people followed the Facebook page and many have offered supportive comments.
Bunch spent more than 20 years in the Kentucky National Guard, and his House biography said he served in Iraq as a first sergeant and earned numerous honors.
The two boys involved in the fight, ages 15 and 16 at the time, were each charged with one count of first-degree assault and two counts of third-degree assault. There is no word so far on what new charges they may face now that Bunch has passed away.