MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — People who knew and loved Leo Shouse are mourning after the six-year-old died Sunday night. His mother says he was fishing in the Red Lick Creek with family.
His mother Natasha says Leo loved green, going outside, and making people smile. He was a sweet little boy who just wanted to play.
On Sunday, he was fishing in the creek with his family. That's where he was when officials say they got a call that he'd gone missing in the water. The Red Lick Volunteer fire department was first on the scene.
"EMS dispatched us to a water rescue of a child swept away on Red Lick Rd. This is where the individual firefighter responds either to the station or directly to the scene. I went directly to the scene since we had really no clear position of the child, and with the term swept away, we had people starting as much as about a mile downstream," said Keith Everitt, Lt. Red Lick Fire Department, Nurse Practitioner.
The first firefighter to reach Leo performed CPR until more help arrived.
Rescuers hopped in the water and used a brush truck to transport Leo from the creek, up a hill, and into the Madison County EMS.
Everitt says they were only able to locate him with the help of family members who called to them while in the Creek.
"The firefighter was able to get the relatives to yell in unison because he could not stop to use the radio because he was doing CPR and the relatives were able to bring the other rescuers to him, as you can see, the creek is quite hidden... once those rescuers were there- they were then able to help that first firefighter load him into our brush truck, bring him down the creek and bring him out through this gate," said Everitt.
Everitt says after someone goes underwater it's a race against the clock to get them help immediately.
"We had people in the water within 5-10 minutes of the call coming out and that was with responders coming from their home," said Everitt.
Leo was taken to a nearby hospital in Richmond, where he was later pronounced dead. The coroner's office does believe the cause of death was drowning. The feeling of grief was thick in the air in the town of just 5,000 on Monday.
"It affects the whole community-once something like that happens especially being a child, it breaks anybody's heart," said Brandy Ritchie, who lives nearby.
Many of the firefighters were from the community and knew the family.
"This is emotional. We lost a child. I know that child. My daughter knows her mother as a best friend," said Everitt. "These are sometimes relatives. These are friends. We are protecting each other- I mean, this is looking after your own."
An official autopsy will be performed at the state medical examiner's office in Frankfort on Monday.
Leo would have been seven in September. The Shouse family has an online fundraiser set up: Funeral for Leo Xavier Shouse
The Red Lick fire department is also in need of volunteers. They are currently operating with 14 responding volunteers. Everitt says the ideal number would be 21. They currently don't have enough people to put two crews in the mountains for rescues.
Red Lick Fire department responds to an average of three child search and rescues and two adult search and rescues each year.