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Couple killed while working on car

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‘It would be agonizing for one of them to be left without the other.’ – Danny Muir, son

By Linda Ireland

A LaRue County couple died Sept. 3 when a car they were working on fell on them.

John Andrew Muir Jr., 56, and Chong Muir, 71, were found dead by their son, Danny Allen Muir, about 7:45 p.m. at their Munfordville Road home in the Tanner community.

According to LaRue County Sheriff Merle Edlin, there were signs the couple had changed the oil in their son’s 2001 Chevrolet Impala and may have been working on the brakes. One of the wheels had been removed and it appeared the car had slipped off a small ramp.

“Their tools were all laid out,” said Edlin.

Edlin believes the car fell first on John Muir and his wife was able to raise it with a jack. The car fell again when she crawled under it.

Magnolia and LaRue County firefighters used air bags to raise the vehicle off the couple.

The Muirs were holding hands, Edlin said. He believes Chong Muir reached to grasp her husband’s hand – either to offer comfort or in an attempt to pull him out – in her last moments.

Deputy Coroner Wesley Warren said the cause of death is asphyxia. A preliminary investigation indicates they had been dead several hours when they were found. Autopsies were not planned as the “cause of death was evident.”

Their son had asked them not to work on the car – but they were trying to help him out, said Edlin.

Edlin said the Muirs were retired, but a very active couple. He had coached one of their sons several years ago in little league.

The couple met when John Muir was stationed in South Korea, according to John’s mother, Frances Muir, of Maryland.

“He met Chong through friends,” she said. “They didn’t date very long. It was one of those things were things just click.”

Chong was an only child of Japanese parents. Her father died when she was very young and her mother married a Korean man. After her mother died, “she struck out on her own.”

She was a beautician with her own shop in Korea. She didn’t continue the career in the United States due to different regulations, said Frances.

When she arrived in the States, she spoke in broken English but learned the new language quickly.

“She was adopted into our families,” said Frances.

The Muirs, along with their sons, Danny and Dennis, traveled throughout John’s 17-year career in the Army. After he was stationed in Fort Knox, they decided to stay in central Kentucky.

Danny Muir said they had lived in their home in Tanner 16 years.

John was a good mechanic and Chong had a green thumb, said Frances.
“She had more things in her garden than anyone else could have had,” she said. “She shared her abundance.”

Chong retired from a factory about a year ago but “didn’t believe in sitting still.” She was continually in motion, whether cooking, crocheting or working in the yard.

John began tinkering with cars while in high school. He wanted to be a mechanic like his dad. Frances said it was his “passion.”

He enjoyed helping others out by working on their vehicles and volunteering at their Radcliff church.

“They had God’s spirit of community,” said Frances. “They wanted to do as much as they could for as many people as they could.”

The Muirs shared hardships during their marriage. John became ill and was unable to do many of the things he once enjoyed. And they lost their son, Dennis Lee, 18, in 200 after he fell from a car.

Danny moved to Arizona a couple of years ago but had moved back home about three months ago to help care for his dad. He was at work when the fatal accident occurred.

As he looked back over the last three months, Danny recalled several moments that showed the bond he had with his parents.

“They said they were proud of me,” Danny said. “I did everything I could to make them proud.”

He said he “loved being next to his dad every single day.”

“It was the best we had ever gotten along,” he said. They sat together in church, singing praises to God.

He got to spend time with his mother as well. Almost every morning, they sat together in her garden, drinking coffee and watching hummingbirds.

They’d look for four-leaf clovers and his mom would “find four before (Danny) could find one.” He carries the last clover his mother found in his wallet.

At other times, they would visit his brother’s grave.

“The last time I saw my mother, she said how handsome I was in my work clothes,” he said. “She gave me a kiss.”

Danny said it was sad to see his parents leave but they are now together with his brother.

“It would be agonizing for one of them to be left without the other,” he said.

“After all this time, they talked together just like it was a newly-formed love.”

He plans to stay in their home in Tanner, keeping the garden going and taking care of “everything left behind.”

He plans to give his mom’s dog and cat extra attention. Lucy is an “old, snaggle-tooth dog” that is very spoiled. Chong used to cut up her food for her.

The cat, “Lucky Nascar,” so named because it survived being hit by a car, has a broken tail and one eye. She’s also very lovable.

“If it weren’t for Mom, she wouldn’t be here,” said Danny. “She nursed it back to health.”

Danny said he has made friends at church that are “just like family” and his best friend is here.

He will rely on them and his faith as he grieves his parents.

“I have a true friend,” he said. “One that’s here not when it is just convenient.”