Madison Brooks was hit by a truck in the early morning hours of 15 January. The disturbing reasons for her being in the middle of a dark road would emerge in the following days. But during those first moments as life slipped away from her, two strangers showed her unwavering kindness in stark contrast to what she had endured just hours before at the hands of her alleged rapists.
For 15 minutes, Beau Adams desperately tried to keep Brooks alive, while his friend Kathryn Devillie scrambled to find Brooks’ ID in the darkness. The LSU seniors were on their way home the fateful night the crash unfolded but got out of their vehicle to help the truck driver move what they first thought was a deer off the road.
“I was going to pull over to help the guy move the animal so he can get on his way. Once we pulled off the side of the shoulder, we realised it was a girl,” Mr Adams told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview. “Once I realized she wasn’t breathing, I got on my knees and kept asking, ‘Are you OK? Are you OK?’ But she wasn’t responsive.”
Despite the paramedics and Mr Adams’ best attempts, Brooks died in the hospital hours later. But her mother Ashley Baustert believes Mr Adams and Ms Devillie, whom she now calls Brooks’ “guardian angels,” comforted her daughter as she slipped out of consciousness. Ms Baustert told Fox News that they helped her daughter make it to the hospital so her organs could be preserved for donation, also giving her family a chance to say a final goodbye.
Following Brooks’ death, Baton Rouge police charged Kaivon Deondre Washington, 18, and Desmond Carter, 17, with third-degree rape for allegedly assaulting Brooks before dropping her off in the middle of the road where she was hit. Mr Washington’s uncle Everett Lee, 28, and Casen Carver, 18, were charged with principal to rape for failing to intervene.
Investigators believe the men assaulted Brooks in the car after a night of drinking at Reggie’s Bar, before dropping her off in a neighbourhood near Pelican Lakes Parkway. Her blood alcohol level was four times the legal driving limit at the time of her death and her autopsy showed injuries consistent with a sexual assault, authorities said.
The suspects’ attorneys have denied that their clients attacked Brooks, calling the death “a tragedy, definitely not a crime” and alleging that she exited the vehicle on her own after an argument. An attorney for Brooks’ family has previously slammed her accused attackers for launching what he described as an “absolutely shameful smear campaign” against the late LSU student.
But amid the heartbreaking circumstances of Brooks’ death, Ms Baustert said she feels relieved two angels were there for her daughter.
“It gives me a lot of comfort and peace in that Beau and Kathryn were both there. The last few people that Madi saw wasn’t going to be her [alleged] attackers,” Ms Baustert told Fox News. “They were put there for a reason by the grace of God. I truly believe that because no other people stopped and did what they did.”
Mr Adams and Ms Devillie told the network they visited the emergency room hours after the accident to check how Brooks was doing.
“We were so frantic and needed to know if she was OK,” Ms Devillie said. “I wish I could’ve been in the ambulance with her. There were so many things you wish you could’ve done and changed, but I’m glad we were at least there for her.”
Mr Adams echoed his friends’ feelings: “I wish there was more we could’ve done in the moment and think about if we could’ve done more.”
The friends said they have become close to Ms Baustert and even got tattoos to honour the impact that Brooks made in their lives.
In the aftermath of Brooks’ death, her mother has tirelessly advocated to change some of the circumstances that led to the tragedy. At the centre of Brooks’ case was the issue of underage drinking as she and three of her alleged attackers were not old enough to consume alcohol.
Last week, a bill that would raise the age to enter bars to 21 in Louisiana was advanced with the support of Brook’s family.
“We all know the Madison Brooks tragedy. There were a lot of factors with that, but at the end of the day when you look at it and you see that the victim and the perpetrators were underage and had been overserved, it begs the question of why we are letting underage people into the bar to begin with,” Senator Beth Mizell said about the “Card Em ‘Act,” according to local news station KLFY.
Brooks’ godmother, Lauren Leblanc also told WAFB: “Our goal is to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again ... I believe it’s for Louisiana to join the rest of the country and prohibit anyone under 21 from entering a bar or serving alcohol, or at the very least please support the bill.”
According to the LSU Reveille, Reggie’s Bar will be permanently closed following a ruling from the Alcohol and Tobacco Control board commissioner. The business was also fined $15,000.
Meanwhile, Brooks’ mother has created a foundation to provide financial help to those in need, “advocate for the safety of young adults and spread awareness for the gift of organ donation” — Brooks donated her heart and kidney.
“Her heart was pure, her laugh infectious and her life was one that will forever shine in the stars above,” the description of the page read.