Firefighter Finds Dying Daughter in Fatal Crash

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(CNN) -- Duty called a volunteer firefighter in New Hampshire on Christmas Eve to the site of a fatal car crash, where fate dealt him a heartbreaking blow.

The mangled body of a dying woman he removed from the crushed SUV in the town of Brookline was his own daughter, CNN affiliate WMUR reported, citing police.

Ellworth Austin said he knew both the volunteer firefighter, Steve Whitcomb, and the daughter, Katie Hamilton.

"It's a terrible tragedy," said Austin, who, like Whitcomb, runs a plumbing business in Brookline. "It's Christmas ... and everybody is pretty teary-eyed."

The firefighter didn't recognize his daughter's body at the time, police chief Bill Quigley told local newspaper The Union Leader.

"Her father was the one who pulled her out of the car without knowing it was her," Quigley said.

Hamilton, 30, died of her injuries caused when another vehicle struck hers from behind, pushing it into the opposing lane of traffic, where a third car collided with hers head on, Quigley told WMUR.

Hamilton leaves behind not only her father.

"I know that she is a young mother," Quigley said. "It's a sad, sad day for all of us, not just because it's Christmas Eve."

In Brookline, almost everyone knows Whitcomb and the tragedy he has suffered. The town of 4,000 holds Hamilton and Whitcomb in high regard, Quigley said.

The drivers of the other vehicles were not hurt. Police think the driver of the car that rear-ended Hamilton may have been distracted, the chief said.

"We are pretty certain that speed and impairment were not a factor so that would rule it down to driver distraction at this point," Quigley said.

Police are still investigating the cause, and no one has been charged, WMUR reported.

15 comments

    • pato

      God doesn’t answer prayers for HS football game touchdowns, the force of God only offers the inner strength reinforcement that enables one to conquer obstacles in life…without that inner strength we are all drawn toward sin and the consequent rotting of our very souls. So rejoice in life and its energy; that energy is YOU and I.

  • Lorelei Murphy-Leighty

    SORRY FOR THE LOSS OF YOUR ANGEL, SHE HAS EARNED HER WINGS TODAY AND WILL BE WITH YOU WATCHING OVER YOU. AS LONG AS YOU HAVE HER IN YOUR HEART SHE WILL BE WITH YOU. HER SPIRIT LIVES ON AND SHE IS WATCHING OVER YOU AND WALKING BESIDE YOU.
    WHEN YOU HEAR THE WIND IT IS HER BREATH, A DROP OF WATER, IT IS HER TEAR, YOUR HAIR ON YOUR ARM TICKLE OR TINGLE IT IS YOUR ANGEL TOUCHING YOU. SHE WILL BE WITH YOU ALWAYS. MAY YOU FIND COMFORT IN KNOWING SHE IS IN A BETTER PLACE THAN YOU AND NOT SUFFERING. BLESSED BE

  • kathie

    There are no words…I am heart-broken at your loss. May God give you His strength to endure this terrible tragedy.

  • Dawn Smith Dixon

    Such a wonderful family, such a horrible tragedy on so many levels. I am from Ohio but lived on Lake Potanipo from 1984-1988 yrs. in Brookline. During that time, Carole Whitcomb babysat my daughter and am not sure, but think this darling gal was she and David’s niece, and probably played with my girl as a toddler. Either way, related to my friend or not, it’s just heartbreaking. It’s just mind blowing sitting here in Northern Ohio and seeing such sad news as this coming from our little paradise in New Hampshire. Our prayers and thoughts to the family, as well as to the town of Brookline. They are all hurting, that’s just the kind of town it is.

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