DAFB Mom Reflects on Loss of Son - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DAFB Mom Reflects on Loss of Son

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DOVER, Del. - Dover Air Force Base Staff Sgt. Nikki Dudley recalls her last moments spent with her 21-month-old son Evan before she deployed.

"I did not want to let him go. I was crying and he was giving me that look like why is my mom crying and he kept wiping tears off my face," said Dudley.

Little did she know, it would be the last time she would hold him. While she was on a 6-month deployment in the Middle East, she got word that her son was seriously hurt.

"The first thing that came out of his mouth was, Evan is being air-lifted.' I was in complete shock and I was like, 'Say that again?'

Dudley arrived state-side and immediately went to the hospital.

"I just dropped to the floor and my dad tried to catch me. I started crying. I took all the stuffed animals off his bed and said, 'Mom is here now you don't need all this stuff.' It was definitely a huge shock to see him like that," said Dudley.

Four days after being admitted to the hospital, Evan died.

Investigators say Evan suffered head trauma and multiple contusions while in the care of 25-year-old Airman Justin Corbett in November 2012. Corbett told investigators Evan had fallen down the stairs.
     
On February 19th, Delaware State Police charged Corbett with Evan's murder. Dudley says her fight to get justice for her son paid off.
   
"All the hard work that I put into trying to put his story out there and to get justice for him... this is the outcome. It felt good knowing that all the hard work is paying off," said Dudley.

Dudley created a Facebook page, called Evan's Heaven, to help keep his memory alive. Evan's Heaven Foundation was also created to help other parents who have lost a child pay for funeral expenses.

"It's hard. Nobody ever thinks that they're going to have to plan a funeral for their child. So for us it's more or less just trying to help  those people who do lose their children and help pay for funeral costs," said Dudley.

Dudley says she's doing her best to keep his memory alive.

Through the little time Evan had on Earth, Dudley says he taught her a lot.

"He taught me honestly what true love was. He taught me patience. He taught me to appreciate the little moments. I remember we were sitting outside and he just wanted to sit and play with the grass. Normally you just don't sit and play with grass. At that moment I thought I'm enjoying playing with grass with a little kid who is teaching me how to just stop and look around you and appreciate it," said Dudley.

Dudley says the hardest thing for her family is that some never got to meet her son. She says having a support system around when she needs it helps her get through hard times, and of course, thinking about Evan.

"If I feel down or if I feel sad, I just remind myself that he's probably watching me right now," said Dudley.

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