Army veteran's family says he died 'doing what he loved to do'
A Chattanooga Army veteran died Tuesday morning after suffering severe burns while helping his neighbor remove a large tree stump from his backyard.
On Monday, 57-year-old Mark Kerley was helping Johnny Patmon, a good friend of many years.
Patmon told Channel 3, "Kerley was the brother he never had and the neighbor that everyone wanted."
Both retired disabled, Army veterans, Patmon said he and Kerley would do just about everything together.
"If he wanted to come over and help me out on any chore or kind of thing he wanted to do, I never did turn him down or say no because we were just like brothers. So, I'm sorry for his lost and I'm trying to cope with dealing with just looking back there in my backyard every second," Patmon said.
Channel 3 also got an opportunity to speak with some of Kerley's family.
His nieces described him as a "good-hearted and giving person."
They said with his passing being so close to his birthday, which was on Sunday and the incident happening around the holidays, they are all taking his death quite hard.
Although they are very sad, they said they know their uncle Mark passed doing something out of the kindness of his heart.
"He was a loving person. He cared. He wanted to make the world a better place and he did," said Courtney Cannon, Kerley's niece.
"My best memories of him would be our family get togethers when our whole family was together," added Erica Brown, another niece.
"He would play Santa Claus. He would dress up and he would be our Santa Claus every year for Christmas," Cannon added.
Kerley's nieces were able to keep a few of his things, part of a shirt and a watch that still works.
The Chattanooga Fire Department released a statement saying their thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.