Drowning, fire keep forces in Bazetta busy

By Ed Runyan



Police officers and firefighters from several agencies assisted Bazetta Township officials early Saturday with two rescues.

The rescues involved the capsizing of a boat that caused the death of a Pittsburgh man who was duck hunting on Mosquito Lake and a duplex fire that trapped a woman and two children.

Daniel Khalil Jr., 40, of Blue Winged Drive in Howland, previously of Pittsburgh, died from drowning aggravated by heart disease. Trumbull County Coroner Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk said Khalil’s heart condition caused his death, but the fall into the water most likely caused his heart to stop.

Khalil, an attorney who had come to the area to work in the shale gas and oil industry, went missing after a boat he and two other men were using to hunt ducks capsized.

Bethany McCorkle, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Watercraft, said the two other men described the boat filling up with water and then “in a short time, the boat flipped.”

The survivors, who worked with Khalil, held onto flotation devices until they were rescued by Mecca Township firefighters in a boat.

Both men suffered from hypothermia from being in the water and were taken to St. Joseph Health Center.

It was dark at 6:39 a.m. when the men entered the water, so the two surviving men, whose identities are not being released, couldn’t see what happened to Khalil, McCorkle said.

“It was an unfortunate incident, and it is still under investigation,” McCorkle said.

A man on shore near the West Main Street boat launch called 911 when he heard the men screaming, according to a report from the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office.

McCorkle said the men went into the water about three-fourths of a mile north of the Mosquito Lake State Park marina.

After Mecca firefighters rescued the two survivors, fire personnel from Bazetta, Mecca and others searched and dragged the lake, while several police dogs from Windsor, Ohio, and Mercer, Pa., also attempted to locate Khalil. After firefighters called off the search, a citizen found Khalil’s body at 4:35 p.m. on the east side of the lake a short distance north of St. Robert’s Catholic Church.

The first emergency Saturday was a fire in half of a duplex at 2403 Hoagland-Blackstub Road, near Perkins-Jones Road, called into Trumbull County 911 at 2:05 a.m. A woman said she and her two children, age 8 and 9, were in an upstairs bedroom and unable to get out because of smoke.

When Deputy Dallas Young of the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office arrived, he and officer Donald Utterback with the Bazetta Township Police Department initially were unable to get into the home despite kicking in the door. Young found that the door was being held closed by a wooden chair that had been propped up against it from the inside.

“I could see the room was filling fast with smoke and could hear the subjects yelling from upstairs,” Young said in a police report.

“Officer Utterback and I continued to kick the door until I could get in. I then removed the chair from under the handle and opened the door,” Young said.

“I made several attempts along with the Bazetta officers to get to the stairs but was overcome by smoke. Bazetta Fire arrived and went upstairs to get the victims,” he said.

Bazetta firefighter/medic David Walter was the first to get up the stairs, finding the woman and children huddled on the floor and helping them down the stairs and outside with the help of another firefighter, according to a Bazetta Township report.

Police officers helped the woman and her children to a Cortland ambulance, which took them to St. Joseph Health Center. Young also went to the hospital for treatment, but all four were released within a few hours.

The grandmother of the two children, Darla Murray of Warren, told fire officials everything was normal when her daughter came home at midnight that night but she had been having trouble with her refrigerator.

When Murray, her daughter and grandchildren returned to the home from the hospital at 4:20 a.m., they discovered a bare wire on the refrigerator.

The home sustained mostly smoke damage, Murray said. The residents of the other part of the duplex had escaped on their own before emergency crews arrived.

“I’m very grateful to the fire department,” Murray said, adding that her daughter told her it was impossible to come down the stairs on their own because of the smoke. “It was very frightening,” Murray said her daughter told her.

There were no smoke detectors in either half of the duplex, so fire officials supplied both homes with a free one.

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