MAGOFFIN COUNTY, Ky. (FOX56/ WKYT) – On Sunday afternoon, the Magoffin County community came together to pray for those who are sick and families who lost loved ones to COVID-19.
This past week, Kentucky marked a grim milestone – 8,000 COVID deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The prayer vigil hit close to home, just hours after a longtime first responder died from the virus.
“Father we pray that you will be with those who are sick, those who are ill with COVID,” said a pastor.
Magoffin County Judge-Executive Matthew Wireman set up the vigil for those battling COVID like Magoffin County Rescue squad captain Carter Conley.
But just before 3 p.m. Sunday, Conley lost that battle.
“He was vaccinated and ended up catching COVID, and it ended up taking his life today before we were able to have this prayer vigil,” said Wireman.
Conley was a founding member of the rescue squad, serving for more than four decades.
“If you were in a car wreck or you were in an ATV wreck or if you were injured in someway, you wanted Carter on the scene,” Wireman said of Conley, adding that Conley was an asset he doesn’t know that the county can replace.
Wireman has lost someone who he calls family.
“We would watch UK football games and every time UK scored a touchdown he would run out to his car because we were watching in the garage with a TV,” said Wireman. “He would get in his car and crank wide-open the UK fight song every time. It didn’t matter if it was the middle of the night and he woke up the whole neighborhood.”
Prayers went out to all areas of the community, from educators to healthcare workers. Amid tragic loss, the pastors drove home a message of unity.
“Just to have lost that member, it sends a fissure into the community, we can all feel it because of who Carter was,” said Clay Herd, a senior pastor at the Licking River Baptist Church. “But at the same time, I think it strengthens our resolve because while we’ve lost him, we know he’s in the arms of Jesus now.”