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A grieving community is rallying around the family of Jacob Lee Brand.

The 21-year-old from Kimball Township, who studied welding at St. Clair Community College and was an apprentice electrician at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58 in Detroit, died last weekend in a hit-and-run crash in Armada Township, police said.

Since the young man’s death, Crime Stoppers has offered a $2,500 cash reward for information leading to an arrest. Meanwhile, almost 200 friends, family and strangers have donated more than $10,000 to a GoFundMe page as of Friday morning. The sum more than doubled the campaign’s initial goal of $5,000.

“The Brand Family would like to thank everyone for the continued support that they have been receiving,” campaign organizers wrote in a message posted to the site Thursday. “They are amazed at how many people knew and loved Jacob. They are so thankful for everybody’s donations and that they can give Jacob the funeral that he deserves!”

Brand’s body was found in a ditch around 11:35 a.m. April 30 on the 23000 block of Bordman near North, Michigan State Police said.

The young man reportedly left a tavern on Capac in Allenton several miles away at about 11 p.m. Friday. He was in a friend’s vehicle but “for an unknown reason, decided to get out and walk,” Crime Stoppers officials said in a statement. “He was let out of the vehicle on Bordman Road.”

Investigators determined his injuries resulted from being hit by a car. The driver did not stop and is believed to have headed east, Michigan State Police reported.

As authorities work the case, those who knew Brand mourn his death and remember his life of promise.

“He loved his union and was inspired to make the Local 58 his career,” Crime Stoppers of Michigan representatives said. “Jacob was very focused on his future. One of his not-too-distant plans was to get married.”

Many GoFundMe supporters hoped to commemorate Brand, who played soccer at Memphis High School and was described on the crowdfunding website as “a good hearted person (whose) life was cut way too short.”

One donor wrote: “I miss you more and more every day. Rest easy buddy.”

The incident shocked not only Brand’s loved ones, but the community itself.

“Grew up near Armada prayers to the family and I hope whoever done this is brought to justice ... in my thought and prayers,” one woman wrote on GoFundMe this week.

Another posted: “Rip Jacob. Taken from our earth way too soon.”

mhicks@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2117

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