Family lifted up by community after daughter’s death in NKY crash

The scene on Alexandria Pike where 16-year-old Ava Markus collided with a semi truck has become a makeshift memorial in her honor.
Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 9:35 PM EDT
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COLD SPRING, Ky. (WXIX) - A Northern Kentucky family is grieving the loss of 16-year-old Ava Markus, who died following a crash involving a semi truck.

Brian Markus spoke two weeks after his daughter’s death. He and the rest of the Markus family continue to process Ava’s loss, but they say the Cold Spring community is helping every way possible.

“Sometimes I wake up and I’m like… Oh, it’s real,” Brian said Monday.

Ava was in a crash on Oct. 2 on Alexandria Pike. It happened around 6 p.m. when an SUV and a semi-tractor-trailer collided.

EMS transported Ava to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where she died on Oct. 11.

Ava was a cheerleader at Campbell County High School. She harbored a passion for gymnastics and was considering a career in dentistry with her sister.

Brian says Ava was the youngest of his children.

“I loved to aggravate her,” he said. “I got so much joy out of it, just waiting for her to come home from school so that I could tease her and aggravate her.”

He remembers her goofiness and joviality. “She was the comedic relief of the family too, and it’s going to be tough. [...]That’s the thing about that girl, we were real close.”

Brian recalls the heartbreaking way he found out about the crash. They were out together when Ava said she was going to leave for home to finish her homework. Brian and his wife were just minutes behind her on the way home when they noticed a crash.

“I looked at my wife, because she was driving, and I said, ‘That’s weird, Ava normally tells me something is going on so I can go a different way,’” he recalled.

Brian then noticed that his surveillance system hadn’t notified his phone that his daughter had made it home. Slowly, an awful awareness began to creep upon them and settle in.

“I told my wife to turn around, and I looked at her location on my phone, and I saw that she was there, and I started calling her phone, and she didn’t answer,” he said.

They got to the crash scene with Ava extricated from the car.

“The first responders already had her in the ambulance, and they told me she had a strong pulse,” Brian said.

Whatever hope that gave Brian and his wife, it wasn’t to be realized. But some weeks later, they say they’re happy with the time they got to spend with Ava.

“That’s the great thing about that week... We had that time with her,” Brian said. “A lot of people don’t get that time.”

The community has responded. People are wearing pink and placing ribbons in her honor, turning the crash site into an impromptu memorial. Local businesses are also honoring her life.

“It’s a blessing,” Brian said of the outpouring of support. “It’s something that, you know, I don’t think we could have gotten through without this support.”

There will be a memorial service for Ava at Campbell County Middle School from 1-4 p.m. on Oct. 29.

The family says they will also start a scholarship in their daughter’s honor.

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