O'BRIEN: Another news-filled start to the new year

Posted: Jan. 4, 2013 4:17 pm Updated: Feb. 15, 2013 5:15 pm


As far as my new line of work goes, it's going to take a while to top the events of Jan. 3, 2013. And what is it about Jan. 3 in this area that brings tragedy around here?

You'll remember the two devastating fires that happened on Jan. 3, 2012. A baby died in a fire in Hamilton, while Baby Ella from Quincy miraculously survived an early-morning blaze. This year, Jan. 3 brought more pain and sorrow with a bit of intrigue thrown in.

Most of Quincy woke up Thursday to the news of a fatal fire on the city's southwest side on Wednesday night. Dan Dietrich, 52, died in a fire at his home at 422 Maiden Lane. Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning says there were no "obvious accidental or natural causes" for the fire, which started just after 10 p.m. Wednesday. Unfortunately, this fire hit a little too close to home. My wife is best friends with one of Dietrich's sisters.

The Dietrich family has been great to our family. Dan was a likable guy. He didn't say much, but loved his Quincy Gems baseball. He was no fair-weather fan either. He and his father, Dick, were routinely found in their box seats near the Gems' dugout now matter how hot the weather. I feel for the family.

Later that day, I wound up feeling for a family I had never met. The Quincy Fire Department had to respond to another house fire during the noon hour on Thursday. A three-alarm fire at 917 N. Fourth wound up taking wiping out everything Paul Carel had provided for his family.

"We really don't have nowhere to go right now," Carel said, his voice cracking a bit and a tear rolling out of his left eye as he looked across the street as his belongings went up in smoke.

The Carels had rented the house for just four months. Paul said he worked 10 hours a day, some times up to seven days a week, to provide for his family. An improperly used/maintained extension cord was blamed for a fire. Thankfully, all five people inside the building at the time of the fire made it out safely. Still, the family is forced to start over from scratch, a fact that is heart-wrenching.

No sooner had that story been filed -- and my toes warmed from standing out in the cold weather at the fire scene-- news came over the scanner of a shooting in Quincy near the downtown area. Police officers combed the scene in the minutes after they were called to 219 S. 11th just after 3 p.m. Quincy police squad cars overtook the road. One truck from the Quincy Fire Department with first responders that I had just seen at the North Fourth Street blaze helped block the road. Onlookers filled the yards, trying to figure out what had happened.

It was evident early on that this was a serious situation. Members of the Adams County EMS did their best to try to save the victim, Terry L. Williams, 53. He was pronounced dead at Blessing Hospital a short time later. When he was rolled out of the apartment complex, blood was visible on his face. I was set up perfectly behind the ambulance to get video of Williams being carted away. Emergency personnel yelled at the media that was set up in the spot to turn off their cameras. I kept rolling, the viewer pushed against my chest getting a shot of a fuzzy purple tie.

"Oh, that's bad," I said as Williams rolled past.

At that point, it was pretty obvious Quincy police would be dealing with its first murder in more than two years. Police tracked down Vincent B. Carter, 44, late Friday morning.

Over the coming days and years, the Dietrich family will mourn the loss of their loved one.

Over the coming weeks and months, the Carel family will start to rebuild their lives. But it won't be easy having to start from scratch.

Over the coming months, I'm pretty sure we'll all be reminded of the events of Jan. 3, 2013, another news-filled start to the new year.




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