Top stories of 2017: Jacob Drake dies in the line of duty


Here’s a look at one of our top stories of 2017.

Tragedy struck Champaign County in August after learning of the death of Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Drake, who died when the U.S.S. John McCain crashed with a civilian vessel in the South China Sea. He was 21.

Drake, a graduate of Triad High School, was an electronics technician on the ship. He and nine other sailors died when the U.S.S. McCain collided with a merchant vessel near Singapore. According to a U.S. Fleet Forces Command report, partial blame for the accident was attributed to “poor seamanship” and “a failure to follow safe navigational practices.”

» READ MORE: Body of Champaign County sailor who died in Navy crash comes home

Drake’s body was flown home in September and a procession through West Jefferson in Madison County drew a large crowd. Residents paid respect to the fallen sailor by waving flags and praying for Drake as his body was taken to the Rader-McDonald-Tidd Funeral Home. Some residents said they wanted to be there to show support for the family and to honor Drake’s sacrifice for his country.

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