‘Everyone loved him’: Friends, family recall Butler Tech student killed 2 days before graduation

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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1 passenger dead after Butler County crash

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The mother of a Butler Tech senior who died Saturday in a car crash picked up her son’s diploma during graduation this week, and today she will attend his funeral.

Theresa Baird said the arc of the life of 19-year-old Brayden Cade Leaker was on the rise when it abruptly ended next to a St. Clair Twp. roadway as the car he was riding in slammed into a tree, killing him at the scene.

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“Everyone loved him and he loved everyone,” Baird said. “He was always very friendly and he had the biggest heart.”

Leaker moved from Waverly in Ohio’s Pike County to Butler County’s New Miami Village in October 2018, and though he was a newcomer, his easygoing manner and generous heart saw him fit in quickly with his Butler Tech peers in the construction technology program, said school officials.

Leaker had been scheduled to graduate with fellow seniors at Xavier University’s Cintas Center just two days after the crash. He would have worn a graduation gown sporting three red cords, one for each of his blood donations during the last year.

And already there was a job waiting for him after graduating. He was going to start working this week.

Instead, on Monday evening, his mother walked on to the commencement ceremony stage and accepted her son’s diploma.

“That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a mother,” Baird said.

She will be joined by family and friends at her son’s burial today in Waverly.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the crash, which saw the driver and another passenger taken to a local hospital and treated for minor injuries.

Kristen AbuDakar, director of the Fairfield Twp. Butler Tech campus, described Leaker as “a good kid, who worked hard to meet all his graduation requirements and was loved by his fellow classmates.”

While attending Butler Tech, his co-op work at a Monroe company had impressed management enough to offer him a full-time position.

Mike Schwarz, co-owner of Tri-State Coating and Repair in Monroe, said Leaker was going to join the company full-time after finishing his school internship.

“Brayden was anxious to get going on his career. He was a hard worker and those who worked with him had nothing but positive feedback on him,” Schwarz said.

AbuDakar said Leaker, who loved to fish, work on cars and go four-wheeling, “was one of those students who didn’t have an enemy and no one was a stranger.”

“He was polite and hoped be a father one day,” she said.