Heroic ac­tion saves life

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Vic­to­ria Vanier

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.

Photo cour­tesy

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.

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