LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A memorial ruck march is being organized in honor of the man killed in a truck explosion in Jessamine County a week ago.
31-year-old James “Jim” Padgett was welding on a dump truck when it exploded. He was transported to UC Medical Hospital and died of his injuries.
Another person also suffered burn injuries to the lower half of their body.
Sergeant Kristopher Riffe said he was in his home office when he heard about the explosion.
He said finding out Padgett was the victim left him in shock. Riffe was Padgett’s squad leader in the 979th Engineer Company of the U.S. Army Reserve.
“I just couldn’t believe it. He was like the Hulk. He was like Iron Man. He was somebody who I never thought could ever get hurt to be honest with you,” Riffe said. “That was my soldier. It was my job to look after him and protect him and to hear of his passing hurts.”
Riffe described Padgett as the best kind of person.
“His heart was so big, and he just wanted to help people. He loved his country, he loved his family and he loved his town,” he said. “I don’t think words can convey how tragic of a loss this really is for not only his family, the community, but the military as well. We all feel the pain.”
But his former military colleagues say they won’t let this tragedy overshadow the life of such a wonderful person.
Riffe said dozens of people are expected to participate in the four-mile Memorial Ruck for Jim Padgett.
The event will be held Saturday, Sept. 11 at 3 p.m. It will be at the Legacy Trail in Lexington, starting near Loudon Ave.
“I think it’s fitting that we’re going to be honoring his legacy on Legacy Trail,” Riffe said. “I think it speaks to the military community as a whole that when one of us falls we all come together to support each other and the families and try to honor the legacy that was left behind.”
Riffe said he hopes the family knows even though Padgett is not here physically anymore, every single one of his fellow soldiers and friends will carry him in their memories and hearts.
“I hope [his daughters] understand that their father was bigger than life and he was the type of person that people would aspire to be,” he said.
A GoFundMe campaign was launched to help raise money for Padgett’s family. He was a father to two little girls.
The fundraiser has raised more than $13,500 in under a week. You can find it here.