The untimely death of a North Laurel High football player in a four-wheeler accident on Saturday night has left family and friends reeling in disbelief.
Kole Robinson, 15, and his brother, Konar, 18, were riding a four-wheeler along a dark wooded section of High Moore Road in western Laurel County that evening when they crashed into a tree. Kole later died from his injuries, while Konar is hospitalized at the University of Kentucky Medical Center and is in the Intensive Care Unit as of Sunday afternoon.
Melissa Biggs, aunt of the two brothers, said Konar has undergone surgery to remove his spleen and has a tear in his kidney, but that he is expected to recover. His parents, Brad and Marilla Blankenship Robinson, are with him in Lexington, while his younger sister, Khloe, is staying with her.
"We're just taking it hour by hour," Biggs said. "You never expect something like this to happen."
For NLHS head football coach Chris Larkey, the news of the accident was devastating.
"It's so unfair," Larkey said tearfully during a phone interview on Sunday afternoon. "Konar and Kole are both good kids. I've followed them and coached them. My brother (Dackery Larkey) coached both of them in middle school."
Larkey said both boys played during Friday night's game and performed well. Konar was recognized during Senior Night, which most schools are hosting on their first game of the season with the uncertainty of how the COVID-19 epidemic will affect high school sports this year.
"Konar is a running back and was off to a great year," Larkey continued. "Kole was a sophomore and was in the position of having older boys playing, but he was going to be moving up. Konar was honored on Senior Night on Friday. Kole walked out with him, and his parents and younger sister. I feel so sorry for their family."
Larkey said he would remember Kole Robinson for his smile and happy disposition.
"Kole is one kid that was always smiling. Nobody had a bad word to say about him. He had a good heart," Larkey said. "Kole worked hard, all the players liked him. My kid played with him on the JV (Junior Varsity) team."
Larkey could not contain his emotions, sobbing as he paid tribute to Kole.
"He was always happy and smiling, it was always 'yes sir' and 'no sir' with him," he added. "It's just so terrible what happened - Kole's birthday was coming up on October 1 and he was anxious to get his driver's permit. He wanted to go on to college and become a state trooper. It's just terrible. He had a future planned."
Larkey said he had called and spoken with Konar on Sunday morning, and was going to have a meeting with all the football players later that day.
"I'm going to call him again on a Facetime call and let the players talk to him," he said. "I'm sure there will be counselors at the school tomorrow to talk to the students who knew Kole and help them deal with this."
Again, Larkey could not contain his grief for the loss of a young life.
"I've been coaching for 31 years and I've never had to deal with a situation like this before," he said. "It seems like it's always the good kids that bad things happen to. It just seems so unfair."
Family members reported on Sunday afternoon that Konar's condition has been upgraded to "stable" and he will be moved from ICU to a regular room when one is available.
Coach Larkey later posted on Facebook: