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Officials Announce Fund for Survivor of Fatal Fire

Police have not yet released information on a cause.

Folks looking to show their support for Thomas Sullivan Jr. — the 20-year-old Carmel man whose four family members —can now do so through a benefit fund.

A recent press release from the office of Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced the news. Donations should be made out to the following: The Thomas J. Sullivan Jr. Fund (P.O. Box 473, Commack, NY 11725).

Police have not yet announced a cause. Carmel Police Chief Mike Johnson said on Wednesday that a joint investigation by members of his agency, as well as the and the Putnam County Fire Investigation Team, was still underway. He noted the receipt of fire debris samples sent to a New York State Police lab for testing, and said results of the analysis will be made public once the probe is complete.

The release also made reference to published comments made by insurance inspector Woody Ledwith. He was working with officials to move wreckage, as well as examine infrastructure and items at the scene last week. According to officials, Ledwith was speaking to a reporter about "hypothetical causes" of the fire when he said that the blaze could have started by electrical and gas meters functioning improperly.

The inspector's comments were "based on subjective theories that were not necessarily based on facts that he was aware of," and in some cases, they were speculative in nature, according to Johnson.

"He apologizes to the public and to the fire investigation team composed of law enforcement and fire personnel who are attempting to ascertain the facts of this incident," Johnson said in the statement. "He also apologizes to Tom Sullivan, Jr. and relatives of the Sullivan family who have undergone the loss of four loved ones, and are waiting for definitive answers as to the cause of the fire."

Messages left for Johnson and fire investigators went unanswered late last week.

"The purpose of our investigation is to obtain the facts before making them public, and not speculating in the media upon different scenarios of what may or might not have occurred," he said in the release. "I believe the public has the right to know the facts, but only after a proper and thorough investigation has been completed."

Lavender May 15, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Not to diminish the grief and tragedy of the situation, but can anybody explain why he needs a "benefit fund"? I'm assuming his parent(s) had life insurance and I would guess he will benefit from the insurance policy on the house, itself. Unless I'm wrong I'm wrong about the insurance policies, it seems he's likely to benefit from a fairly hefty sum for a 20 year old.
Teleman May 15, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Do you really think he'll get an insurance check by the end of next week? This boy has nothing left but the shirt on his back and thankfully a good family- he's got to start from square one and I for one will send my support to the fund. Also your "guess" about how he'll benefit from insurance is just that.
George Datino May 15, 2012 at 12:14 PM
You are right, you are assuming. None of us know exactly what he will or will not be getting from insurance companies. Depending on the policy, I think the house will have to be rebuilt in order to collect on that claim. As far as the life insurance, good ole Uncle Sam and New York State will be taking their share (because that is what we all pay insurance premiums for so our government can benefit from our deaths). So whatever he ends up with, it will be nothing in comparison to what he has lost. The great thing about this is that it is totally voluntary. If you want to contribute, great. If you don't, that is fine too.

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