Heroic action saves life
Perhapsit was the ‘sixth sense’ of a firefighter that led fire captain Daryl Williams to enter a violently burning building, windows exploding and fully engulfed in flames, last Saturday night, without any equipment and without any back-up; whatever it was, one man is alive today because of it.
“My wife and I were driving to Lennoxville along the 143 to pick up our daughter when we saw the flames,” commented Mr. Williams in an interview with the Stanstead Journal. When Mr. Williams and his wife, Lisa O’Hagan, arrived at the scene no one was there to fight the fire. “I told Lisa to call 911 while I went in a couple of times through the front door to see if anyone was inside. Then I went to the side door, a patio door,
TheBorough of Lennoxville is holding its 23rd edition of Friendship Day, this Saturday, June 9th. The event will feature many returning activities, such as the Used Book Sale at the Lennoxville Library, celebrating its 100th year, the Artisans and Organizations Fair that takes place in the playground and gymnasium of St. Antoine School, the parade from 10:30 to noon, a tombola fundraiser organized by the Lennoxville Youth Center, and the fireworks which go off at dusk on the Alexander Galt school grounds.
As usual there will be a line-up of musical guests, from 10 am to 5 pm, at the Eddie Custeau kiosk in Centennial Park. “This year we have Robert Woolerton and Friends, Elmer Andrews and Friends, Wayne Nutbrown and Friends, Lucien Beauchemin and Arnold Winget will possibly be playing. We also have a new group, the Lapointe Family from Compton,” commented Alberta Everett who is in charge of the musical entertainment. During the last hour, from 4 to 5 pm, anyone can take part in a jam session.
The kids are never forgotten on Friendship Day. There will be a Petting Zoo, pony rides, face-painting, inflatable games and more. The Lennoxville Art Group will hold their annual exhibition and Sale on Friday evening, all day Saturday, and on Sunday at the Amedee Beaudoin Community Center.
One new activity will be the inauguration of the Edible Garden at the corner of Speid and Hunting at noon. “This community garden is an initiative of the students of St. Antoine School,” explained Judith Gagnon who is in charge of Recreation and Community
Thelate Elane Wilson kept very detailed notes of all the genealogical research she had done over the years. Her notebooks contain among other items, the balance of the vitial statistics found in The Stanstead Journal from the end of 1963 to her death December 26, 2011. The list of recorded material is extensive: census information, cemetery list updates, church records, stats from the last few decades of The Sherbrooke Record and so much more. This massive work once indexed, will keep family historians busy for a long time to come.
and broke that with a bike that was there. After checking the first floor, I saw there was a light on upstairs so I took the stairs up, yelled, but got no answer. That’s when I ducked down and saw a person on the coach,” explained Mr. Williams.
The young man on the couch, Chris Bell, was unconscious, probably from the fumes. “When I grabbed him and told him we had to get out of there he seemed to recognize me, saying ‘yes, yes’. The odd thing is that he was a student that I had taught at Galt. I didn’t recognize him at first,” said the firefighter. “I brought him to my wife, who is a nurse, and she took care of him,” he added.
Given the fact that there were no cars parked in the driveway, I asked Mr. Williams what made him enter the burning building several times and risk his life. “When I first got there I said to myself ‘Don’t push it’. Then I saw a curtain, like an old towel, hanging in the window, the way young people sometimes hang curtains, and I went in,” he answered.
“I had never gone into a fire without equipment. We usually have other folks, hoses and tools with us. It was not a nice feeling at all,” he said candidly. Mr. Williams had to spend the night at the hospital following the ordeal. “When you have a mix of things burning, the fumes can be nasty stuff. They did blood tests, chest x-rays and checked how my lungs were working. I’ll be fine.”
“It was an interesting evening. The bottom line is if you’re not supposed to die, you won’t. My daughter had gone to a birthday party that night. If that kid had not been born on that day, there might have been a different ending,” concluded Mr. Williams.
“I fell asleep on my couch around 8 pm,” said Mr. Bell who had been living in an apartment, which was not equipped with a smoke alarm, in the building for about four years. There were two other apartments in the building but they were vacant. “Around 10:30 I got woken up by someone pounding on my chest. He said the house was on fire and we had to go now. Then he asked if anyone else was in the building. I recognized him right away as an old teacher of mine,” he added. At this point the apartment was full of smoke and the plastic around the doors was melting. “There was an electrical fire underneath my apartment that had spread up. Mr. Williams guided me out – I couldn’t see for the smoke.”
When he was rescued, Chris admitted to feeling a little dazed, uneasy and in shock. “Mr. Williams was very sick from the fumes because he had checked the downstairs before he came upstairs and found me. He had inhaled an awful lot of smoke,” commented Mr. Bell who lost everything in the fire, including many personal souvenirs from his father and grandfather. “Mr. Williams is a hero in my books. If not for him, I wouldn’t have gotten out alive.”
See Fire Chief Mike McKenna’s account of the event for more details.
In the photo, Elane’s daughter Laurel is presenting the notebook collection to Jeanne d’Arc Clowery on the right, who is receiving them on behalf of the Stanstead Historical Society Archives. Thank you Ms. Wilson for this wonderful bequest.