HARDIN COUNTY, KY (WAVE) - A former high school coach of a slain Kentucky State Police trooper spoke glowingly about him Monday morning, just hours after he was gunned down by a suspect.
Rineyville native Joseph Cameron Ponder graduated from North Hardin High School in 2002. He was killed late Sunday night in a confrontation with a suspect who was later shot dead by law-enforcement authorities.
Ponder's coach, James Webb, said not only was Ponder an incredible athlete, but he was an incredible person. Webb heard the initial reports of a trooper shot in Lyon County early Monday, and immediately texted Ponder to see if he was OK.
"I knew he was out in that direction and I asked if he was OK," Webb said. "Then the 6 o'clock news came on and it showed his picture and his name, and I was just devastated. I just tried to make my way to the car."
Driving home to tell his wife, memories of Ponder came rushing back.
"I coached him in football and track and field," Webb said. "He was one of the top track runners in the state of Kentucky his senior year in 2002. Great family, close to the family.
"Cameron, when he graduated, went to the Navy and he was a diver and we've always stayed in touch. He did a stint with the Navy SEALs, and (he was) just a fantastic young man -- humble, quiet and unassuming -- but a fantastic athlete and a fantastic person."
So fantastic in fact that Ponder babysat for Webb's children when they were younger. Ponder had just seen the Webbs and his children a month ago when he was in town for the funeral of a KSP trooper who died in a car wreck.
Ponder had just applied to switch posts to Elizabethtown to be closer to his family and girlfriend.