The family man: Accident claims life of Picayune storm worker

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 27, 2015

Father and Daughter: From left, Shelby with her father Rowdy Kevwitch.  Photo submitted

Father and Daughter: From left, Shelby with her father Rowdy Kevwitch.
Photo submitted

“My world has stopped and everyone else’s keeps on going.” –– Tracy Kevwitch

About 10 years ago, Tracy Kevwitch met Rowdy, the love of her life, during an ice storm cleanup in Arkansas.
However, last week, Tracy’s world came to an abrupt standstill when Rowdy was tragically killed in a work related accident in Crossville, Tennessee.
Tracy, a Picayune native, and Rowdy, a Marion, Kentucky native, traveled the country working for disaster relief and recovery companies.
“We met, fell in love and have been together ever since,” Tracy said. “For four years, we worked together until I gave birth to our daughter Shelby.”
The pair was married on September 10, 2010. Tracy said more than anything Rowdy loved his family.
“He was the kind of dad that every little girl dreams of,” Tracy said. “Shelby loves her daddy and he loved her.”
When Rowdy worked out of town, he would often send flowers and drive home unexpectedly to surprise his family, Tracy said.
During his time at home, Rowdy enjoyed taking his boat to the river and fishing.
On June 17, Rowdy was driving a front-end loader machine, which he operated for many years, Tracy said. Rowdy’s crew was in Crossville Tennessee cleaning up debris from an ice storm, which devastated the area in February.
“He told people that the machine wasn’t running right,” Tracy said. “There’s a lot of mountain terrain in Crossville, Tennessee and apparently, according to reports, the machine’s drive shaft fell out causing him to lose control of the steering and brakes, which caused the machine to travel down the side of the mountain.”
Rowdy was thrown about 15 to 20 feet away from the machine. Doctors worked on him for about an hour, Tracy said. Rowdy succumbed to his injuries that day, which included blunt force trauma and several broken bones.
Tracy and her daughter traveled to Tennessee where Tracy was able to see Rowdy before he was cremated.
“We had decided a while ago that whoever passed away first would be cremated and the remaining spouse would hold onto the ashes until the day they would be reunited again,” Tracy said.
More than 100 people attended a service for Rowdy in Crossville, Tracy said. His co-workers parked their bucket trucks in the parking lot and hung American flags from the equipment.
Rowdy was a man who loved his job.
“He was always positive and loved those machines like a Tonka toy,” Tracy said.
Philip Talbert, who is Rowdy’s son-in-law, said Rowdy has been his confidant for the past eight years.
“A week before he left for Tennessee, I spent a day with him just visiting and fishing,” Talbert said. “He loved his family and friends and missed them when he was gone. They meant everything to him. The man worked hard trying to make a living for his family.”
For now, Tracy and Shelby are taking things day by day and moment by moment.
“My world has stopped and everyone else’s keeps on going. Shelby sleeps in one of his T-shirts and had a heart necklace made that reads dad and is filled with his ashes,” Tracy said. “She said it makes her feel better. I don’t want to lose those memories either. He was amazing.”

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