The family of 22-year-old Keanan Thompson, a Norwich University student who died in a car crash early Sunday morning, is remembering him as a selfless leader full of love.
“He was a very loving, caring son,” said his father Chris Thompson. “Him and I spent a lot of time together fishing, hunting, playing sports and just enjoying life.”
Thompson was a member of the Vermont National Guard and the Norwich University Corps of Cadets. His family said he had plans to join the U.S. Army, and later join the Vermont State Police or become a game warden.
“From the minute he got up in the morning, he just enjoyed every part of the day,” Chris Thompson said. “He just loved his friends, his faith, the love of God, he just loved life to begin with.”
His death is the second tragedy to impact the Thompson family in recent months. In July, his older brother Christian died at 26. The outpouring of support from friends, family and the greater community has been significant.
Keanan Thompson’s fiancée Madi Eline launched a fundraising page on Monday to help with funeral expenses, and her goal of $7,000 has already been tripled.
“All of the comments are about how he influenced their lives or how he influenced their kids’ lives,” Eline said. “A million people have reached out to me, and I know he’d love that.”
Eline said she met Thompson when they were both enrolled at Norwich University. She said he was known for his leadership, something the Army took notice of as well.
“I tried to get him to enlist with me, and they immediately just gave him a scholarship to be an officer in the future,” Eline said. “We had the same class schedule since we met so that we could help each other and he kind of lead me through everything.”
Father Scott Gratton, chaplain for Norwich University and the Vermont National Guard, held Mass for the Thompson family Tuesday night at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Bethel where Keanan grew up.
“You can tell just by the loving heart of the people around him what kind of man he was,” Gratton said. “He wanted to give his life to be a state trooper and serve his country, to sacrifice so much for people. You can tell he had a sacrificial heart.”
The Norwich University Corps of Cadets held an Echo Taps ceremony Tuesday night with Thompson’s family in attendance.
According to Vermont State Police, Thompson was traveling on I-91 in Weathersfield when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed. They believe he was ejected from his vehicle during the crash.
Police say a vehicle stopped at the scene, but before that operator was able to render aid, another vehicle drove through the crash scene without stopping and struck Thompson.
The vehicle is described as a grey four-door sedan with Vermont registration. Anyone with information is asked to contact Vermont State Police.