Vigil held for Oakman teen struck on ATV


(This story was updated on the internet at 8:35 a.m. Tuesday to reflect late changes to the print story Monday night.) 

Area ministers presided over a  prayer and candlelight vigil held at the Walker County Courthouse Monday night following the death of a 14-year-old critically injured Friday night. 

Austin Aaron of Oakman was on an ATV that was struck by a Walker County Sheriff's deputy. The incident, which happened at 10:51 p.m. Friday on Alabama Highway 69 South at the intersection of Old Tuscaloosa Road, is being investigated by Alabama State Troopers.

Aaron, who was transported from the scene to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, passed away Monday morning. The deputy was transported to Walker Baptist Medical Center and later released. 

The deputy was taken to Walker Baptist Medical Center and later released. 

On Sunday, Sheriff Nick Smith issued a statement asking for people to keep their thoughts and concerns focused on the various lives impacted rather than assigning blame.  

"As many of you know, one of our Sheriff’s deputies was involved in a vehicle accident involving a 14 year old boy on a four wheeler on Friday night. Because the accident involves a deputy, the investigation will be conducted by ALEA, but outside of that investigation, there are a few things I would like to say.

"This tragic accident has left a young boy clinging to life and a young man devastated. This accident will forever change those two people, their families, and will have a ripple effect across our entire county. It’s at this very trying time that we, as a county, should fall to our knees and pray fervently for mercy and peace. 

"Now is not the time to place blame. Not on the deputy, not on the young boy, and most definitely not on his parents. Instead of wasting our breath condemning and judging, we all need to use it to cry out for God to place His hand on this young boy, and return him home to his family. To bring peace and calm to a deputy who is absolutely broken.

"My heart hasn’t been this heavy in a long time. As your Sheriff, I’m responsible for speaking for my department, and all I ask is that you pray. Pray hard, and pray from the deepest parts of your heart, because there are two good people that need it now more than ever."