KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Family, friends and the University of Tennessee community are remembering 24-year-old Ben Kredich after he was hit and killed by a driver who ran off the road Monday while walking on the sidewalk on Kingston Pike.

His mother, Kim Kredich, said he was walking to meet his dad for their weekly dinner at Sunspot at the time of the crash. She said they’ve received many messages from those who knew him.

Ben Kredich with his parents, UT swim coach Matt Kredich and Kim Kredich. (Photo via UT)

“Everybody seems to know Ben, from the neighborhood to the community, UT and beyond, it feels like home and he always knew he belonged here because he did,” she said.

He spent much of his life with the UT swim and dive team. His dad, Matt, is the director of the program.

“There were generations of swimmers at UT that knew Ben as my son, and in the early days, as one swimmer said, ‘It’s not a party until Ben Kredich shows up naked.’ That’s when he was about 5, 6, 7, years old,” Matt Kredich said.

He also said the team was always supportive of his son and that Ben always kept them entertained.

“They did such a great job of making him feel important and feel loved, and when he was their age, he felt like he was a friend,” he said.

Ben also participated in the UT FUTURE program, which helps students with intellectual and developmental disabilities navigate college.

Emma Burgin, coordinator for the program, said he was integral in the creation of the independent living program.

“Because of Ben and his family and the efforts that they put in, to creating that opportunity we now can help so many students live on their own for their first time,” Burgin said. “I think when Ben was living on his own, we had seven people in the independent living program. We have 19 today.”

He and his family pushed for independent living after learning he wouldn’t be able to live in the dorms his freshman year. He ended up living alone during his time at UT and after graduating in 2021. He met Amber Carmody through the program, when she was paired up with him as a mentor.

“Being able to again and again make more accessible pathways for other students. When other students have the ability to be those path pavers, he cheered them on the whole time and supported them throughout the time. He had that ‘whatever I can do’ attitude,” Carmody said.

His parents said they’ve seen an outpour of support from the community.

“Ben’s later years are defined by a phrase that I think is wonderful, which Kim uses a lot, which is the dignity of risk,” his dad said. “Every human being should be afforded the dignity of risk, and there’s a risk to a lot of things that he did, but it’s the same with us as well, and that risk paid off for so many people.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated.