The family of Melissa Lehew, the Good Samaritan who died Aug. 31 after being swept away by flood waters when trying to help another driver trapped in the waters, released a statement Friday.
Lehew and her boyfriend, Kyle Bowman, stopped the truck they were riding on Route 136 in Harford County, when they saw another car trapped in flood waters on the Broad Run Bridge. Bowman and Lehew got out of the truck and tried to throw a rope to the man trapped in his car, but Lehew was swept away by flood waters. The driver the couple were trying to rescue was swept away as well. His body was recovered Sept. 1. Lehew's body was found Sept. 3.
In the family's statement, Lehew's sister, Courtney Chiveral, spoke of Lehew's "genuine passion for helping out anyone she could without hesitation or asking for or accepting anything in return."
They thanked the many people who have helped them through this difficult time and spoke of what the family has endured.
The statement also seemed to raise an issue with the media's coverage of Lehew's disappearance and the subsequent finding of her body.
"It is gravely disheartening that we found out that Melissa was missing through news reports before being properly notified," the statement reads. "It is a shame that family had to hear nerve-wrecking news from the media rather than from a loved one."
The statement goes on to ask that Lehew be remembered for her final tragic act of heroism, and that indiscretions of her past "stay buried."
The statement also addresses a GoFundMe site Bowman set up then subsequently took down at the family's request.
"At this time the family is not concerned of the expense," the statement reads. "However, if you feel the desire to donate we are asking that donations be made in Melissa’s name to Prologue Inc. c/o Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center, 3 Milford Mill Road, Pikesville, MD 21208 in support of an organization that she admired dearly."
The full text of the family's statement can be read below:
Melissa was a very loving person and had a genuine passion for helping out anyone she could without hesitation or asking for or accepting anything in return.
The family would like to send out our utmost gratitude to Mr. Bowman and his family, the congregation at Mt. Zion, friends and other who assisting in the search efforts for Melissa. While you may have only known Melissa for just a few short months of her young life, we hope it was filled with generosity and compassion.
With heavy hearts we would also like to send our deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Samis and that he may Rest in Peace.
It was gravely disheartening that we found out that Melissa was missing through news reports before properly being notified. It is a shame that family had to hear the nerve-wrecking news from the media rather than from a loved one.
This last week has already been so taxing and all the media reports have only added to the stress as we are still struggling to grasp the loss of Melissa. My sister truly had a huge heart and she only wanted to help people and I don’t believe that this is how she would want the situation to have been handled.
Melissa’s generous final act was tragic and heroic and it left not only us but those around her in shock. We are asking for her memory to be kept in good spirits as her last moments were courageous and selfless. Yes, she did have a troubled past, but she was in the process of making amends for the things she had done.
We are asking for the sake of her children and those that loved her to let her past stay buried and remember her for the good soul she truly had, and not the mistakes she had indiscreetly made. The family has requested that the GoFundMe page created by Mr. Bowman to be taken down. At this time the family is not concerned of the expense. However, if you feel the desire to donate we are asking that donations be made in Melissa’s name to Prologue Inc. c/o Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center, 3 Milford Mill Road, Pikesville, MD 21208 in support of an organization that she admired dearly.
Melissa will truly be missed. From the bottom of our hearts we cannot thank you enough to all that have helped or for those that have reached out for support but at this time the family is asking for privacy to mourn and proceed with this sorrowful time.