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'I had to witness them coming out with him': Friend recounts deadly Boone County fire that killed 16-year-old

AJ Messmer, Madelynn McDaniel
Posted at 6:11 AM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 21:41:40-04

WALTON, Ky. — Neighbors and family say 16-year-old AJ Messmer was killed in a house fire in Boone County Wednesday morning.

Firefighters were called to Maher Road at around 1:38 a.m. for a structure fire, according to a press release from Florence Fire Chief Rodney Wren. When they arrived, crews rescued two juveniles and rushed them to the hospital. Messmer succumbed to his injuries.

Neighbor Madelynn McDaniel said she watched as crews rescued her friend.

“I had to witness them coming out with him,” McDaniel said. “I just really wanted to be able to help him in some way, and it’s just hard because that's my friend that I grew up with, and I don't want anything to ever change about that.”

McDaniel said Messmer lived with his father, stepmother and younger step-siblings. His parents and little sister made it out, but Messmer and his younger brother were trapped downstairs. Officials did not provide an update on his brother's condition.

Messmer attended Ignite Institute, a STEAM-focused public school in Erlanger.

“We were supposed to graduate this next year, which is actually going to be difficult because we were super close friends,” McDaniel said.

Boone County Schools spokesperson Barbara Cain-Brady said in a statement the district is grieving the loss of their student.

"Today and for as long as is needed counselors and therapists will be available for students at IGNITE, Ryle High School and Gray Middle School where the student’s siblings and friends also attend," Cain-Brady said.

Investigators have not confirmed what caused the fire. Messmer's father has asked for privacy at this time.