Family of 20-year-old fire victim knows tragedy
Danny Hewey (Courtesy of Linda Hodgman)
Danny Hewey, a 20-year-old Concord man, died early yesterday morning after trying to rekindle a fire by throwing gasoline on it, a fire investigator said yesterday. His untimely death brought his family a pain they know too well: Six years ago, Hewey’s sister, Brenda, was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend in Boscawen.
“I feel a little on the numb side,” their mother, Linda Hodgman of Warner, said last night. “I can’t even explain how I feel.”
Danny Hewey was injured outside the Webster home of John Little about 10:20 p.m. Saturday, said Max Schultz, district chief for the state Fire Marshal’s Office. Danny Hewey and a few others, including his 18-year-old brother Douglas Hewey, were gathered around a brush fire burning in a pit they’d created in one half of an empty oil tank. When the fire died down, Danny Hewey poured gasoline on it from a five-gallon bucket, causing an instant explosion, Schultz said.
Hewey gasped for air, inhaled heat and burned his throat and lungs, his mother said. His brother’s 17-year-old girlfriend was standing next to him, and she suffered burns to her face, Hodgman said. The girl is being treated at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and could be released today, she said.
Schultz declined to identify the girl yesterday because her family was still being notified.
Hodgman said she learned of the accident from her son Douglas late Saturday night when he called her from Webster.
Douglas Hewey told her he had helped his girlfriend out of her burning jacket and put out the fire burning her hair and face. When he saw his brother running with fire over half his body, he tried to help, Hodgman said. She said Douglas Hewey performed CPR on his brother until the ambulance came. Danny Hewey died just after 1 a.m. from his injuries, his mother said.
“Dougie doesn’t feel he did enough to help his brother, but I told him he did all he could,” Hodgman said.
Now Hodgman and her ex-husband, Richard Hewey Sr., will prepare to bury their second child. Their eldest daughter, Brenda Hewey Barnum, 34, was killed six years ago next month in a horrific domestic violence attack.
In a paranoid and jealous rage over custody of their 11-year-old son, Hewey Barnum’s ex-boyfriend shot her and held their son hostage in a Boscawen home in March 2007. The man then shot and stabbed his son before fatally stabbing himself. The boy survived and was adopted by relatives.
On her Facebook page yesterday, Jennie Hewey of Concord remembered her late brother and sister.
“I can’t believe that you are gone Danny,” she wrote. “You are my little brother. I’m going to miss you so much. You helped me out so much when I needed you. Now you are in a better place . . . and you are with Brenda and she will protect you. ”
Danny Hewey grew up in Boscawen and attended Merrimack Valley High School. He left school without graduating and got on the “wrong path,” his mother said. But he had begun to straighten his life out, she said. For work, he was hauling scrap metal. He knew Little, who owns property in Webster, from hauling junk cars for him, Hodgman said. Little declined to comment when reached yesterday.
“I feel upset that it had to happen,” Hodgman said. “He was just getting his life together.”
She last saw her son on Saturday when he stopped by to pay her some money he owed. He left to buy pizza for his friends and headed to Webster, she said.
Travis Coulter, 24, of Boscawen, grew up with Hewey and had been hauling scrap metal with him.
He intended to be at Little’s on Saturday night too but had fallen asleep and never made it. He described Hewey as a guy who “would do anything for anyone.” He said, “It didn’t matter when, day or night.”
Another friend, Travis Whiting, 21, of Warner, described Hewey similarly. He said the two worked on his truck together and had been planning to get together soon. “It never happened,” Whiting said. “He got a call to pick up a furnace for scrap and he got busy. I will always miss Danny. I’ll miss that kid.”
In addition to his parents, sister and brother, Danny Hewey is survived by his older brother, Richard Hewey Jr. Funeral arrangements had not been made as of last night.
Schultz said his office has responded to similar scenes before. He said gasoline, kerosene and any other flammable liquids should never be used to light or relight fires. He also said gasoline should be kept in approved containers, not open buckets. For more tips on fire safety, visit usfa.fema.gov/citizens/focus/summer.shtm.
(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323,
firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)