PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Battling a war of emotions, a Floyd County family mourns the loss of their loved one. Iraq War Veteran, 29-year-old Brenan McKinney, died this weekend following a crash. McKinney's mother says her son will now live on through his daughter.
A proud army mom, Pamela Couch, lights up when she looks at pictures of her son.
"When he told me he wanted to go into the Army, I tried every way in the world to talk him out of it but he just kept saying, 'I could get killed on the road or how drugs are here I could get shot in a drive by.' When he talked me into letting him go...I worried the whole time he was gone," says Couch.
Couch worried because she knew the dangers he would face....the images and scars he would return with.
She remembers a story her son told her from his time in Iraq, "A suicide bomber on a scooter was riding through a market. The bomber detonated right where their stands were and a little girl got blown in half from the waist down and he went and held her as she passed. As he held her, she looked up at him with a smile...it was like her way of saying thanks and knowing someone compassionate was with her as she passed."
Couch says she never dreamed her worst nightmare would come true on KY 1428, just yards from where McKinney was living with his fiancee and 1-year-old daughter.
That is where officials say McKinney hit the embankment around a curve, causing his car to flip and killing the veteran.
"Never dreamed I would outlive one of my children....never dreamed it. It is like I am in a bad dream and I am going to wake up, but I know better," says Couch.
He was a soldier re-establishing his life. Starting a new chapter in his life, with a new job and his fiancee, Brittney, and daughter, Faith, by his side.
Brittney Collins says, "He loved that baby more than anything, she was his whole world. That was his main reason for living, was that baby...that was his everything...he was such a good father."
With his daughter, the family finds comfort.
"I say you've got that baby and as long as that baby has a heartbeat you've got a piece of him. When you want to hug him, hug her and you'll be hugging him. You want to look in his eyes, look in hers because she looks just like him," says Couch.
The family says they also find comfort knowing that a hero is now at peace, watching over them with both is grandmother and aunt who died while he was overseas.
The accident remains under investigation by Kentucky State Police.
McKinney's funeral will be Wednesday at one o'clock at Nelson Frazier Funeral Home in Martin.