**Editor’s note: The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) originally reported Blake Brainard was 9 years old when he died, but Blake’s family has since corrected the TWRA’s reporting, saying Blake was actually 8 years old at the time of the crash. The story below has been edited to reflect this correction.**
CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The 8-year-old is described as a “light to everyone” and his stepfather as someone who was “always smiling and had the biggest heart ever.”
On Monday, a Middle Tennessee community was in mourning after a boating incident on a lake in Cheatham County took both of their lives.
According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), 36-year-old Steve White, or how many knew him as Aaron White, was operating a watercraft over the weekend when he hit a barge. His stepson, Blake Brainard, was a passenger.
“It made me really upset,” said Paytin Overracker.
Blake’s mother is one of Overracker’s teachers. In the family’s honor, her school held a moment of silence and wore yellow to support her.
“On the front, it says #TeamBrainard. On the back, it says ‘always in our hearts,'” Overracker said. “We all put our heads down and just prayed.”
The family is still grieving, but released a statement to News 2:
“Blake Baxter Brainard was the light to everyone. It didn’t matter who you were; he could come up to you and make you smile, regardless of what was happening in the moment. He loved all kinds of sports, and had just started playing flag football. He wanted everyone to feel special and included. He was the funniest, smartest, kindest little boy you could have ever met. He was the all star catcher and the team captain for JT Warriors and Tennessee Elite Baseball teams.
“Aaron White stepped in and was the best role model and dad to have ever came in to his life. He was friends with everyone and loved by so many. If you ever met him, he was always smiling and [would] do anything to make someone else smile. He had the biggest heart ever.
“Aaron loved and protected his family no matter what. Every single person in our family knew that Aaron would be there for you the second you needed him. He was the most amazing dad to both boys and uncle. He loved all of us so much and we do not know what we will do without him and Blake. Aaron and Blake truly were the light of so many lives and they will be missed every day of our lives.”
A GoFundMe was created to help the family through this time; you can find the fundraiser by clicking here.