Ben Kredich couldn’t have had a stronger, more loving family – smart, successful parents, loyal, protective brothers and a comfortable home alive with music and fun. He won that lottery for sure.
I ought to be using the present tense here, because his sudden, shocking death hasn’t changed the way anybody feels about him, except to make us feel his loss more acutely. Ben is loved because he loved. He brought happiness to everyone he met.
I don’t know how autism figures into this equation, but Ben was exceptionally open, friendly and kind. He made friends easily, and I doubt he spent any time basking in self-pity.
The way we feel about Ben is not going to change because of an “impaired” driver who crossed three lanes of traffic and mowed him down Monday afternoon as he walked along a Kingston Pike sidewalk.
Ben, who was 24, was on his way to meet his father, UT swimming and diving head coach Matt Kredich, for their usual Monday supper at the Sunspot. Maybe Ben was thinking about what he was going to have for dinner, or what he and his dad were going to talk about that evening.
Ben was a gifted musician who played the guitar but had settled on the piano as his instrument of choice. He found a niche playing music in local assisted living facilities. I’m told he had perfect pitch.
Want to feel even worse? Imagine breaking the news about the Piano Man to the fragile elders who were looking forward to hearing him play again. This is a tragedy that is going to touch a lot of people.
Ben was a truth teller with a quirky sense of humor and a heart as big as Texas. He was supported by the unswerving love of his father, his twin brother Miles and his younger brother Coleman, both of whom are competitive swimmers and Ben’s biggest fans. Their mother, Kimberley, is a gifted musician who became an advocate for children with disabilities after years of fighting for Ben’s rights to an equal education. Her courage has never flagged.
The family plans services Sunday, August 27, 2023, at 2 p.m. at Alumni Memorial Building at UT. Eulogies have been pouring in, and there is widespread grief over his death. Would Ben have been surprised by this reaction?
Hard to say, but I’m quite certain he knew he was loved.
His friends and family are taking the high road, but some real talk must commence about the circumstances of his death – the sooner the better. There are questions begging answers.
Why was a guy who was soon to be charged with vehicular homicide in Ben’s death allowed to get back into the driver’s seat after being treated for an opioid overdose? He was given Narcan and taken to a hospital after being found unconscious in his car.
A KPD press release said police found other drugs, including heroin, in the car.
- Why was he allowed to take possession of his car less than an hour before he ran over Ben?
- How did his car come to be waiting for him in the hospital parking lot?
- Why wasn’t he charged with possessing the narcotics found in his car, which included heroin, as per the initial press release from the Knoxville Police Department?
And why was Ben walking from his Sequoyah Square apartment to Cumberland Avenue in 90-degree heat? This year-old WVLT-TV video answers that question. Ben was begging Knoxville Area Transit board members who were “reimagining” bus routes not to eliminate the No. 10 bus he rode every day because he was afraid of Kingston Pike traffic, flat-out admitting he feared being hit by a car.
His plea was unavailing, so he chose to walk rather than utilize KAT’s LIFT services, which use big, clunky ambulance-like vehicles big enough to accommodate wheelchairs. I cannot help wondering what those decision makers feel about this decision today.
These questions, and others, demand honest answers. Thoughts and prayers are not going to cut it.
July 25, 2018: Ben’s twin brother, Miles, advocates for Ben to live on campus at UT. Here
April 10, 2019: University of Tennessee works out a pilot program that lets Ben live on campus. His mom, Kim, vows to continue the fight for all.
The buddies program of UT’s Future program pairs Amber and Ben. This is their video.
June 2023: Ben plays 30-minute keyboard concert for ill and nonresponsive Marsha Floyd Partin, his educational aide for grades 3-12. She encouraged his interest in piano. Her family asks Ben to play at her funeral. Link.
Betty Bean writes a Thursday opinion column for KnoxTNToday.com.