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World War II Veteran Wesley Carrion Perishes After House Fire

Posted on 02 October 2013

Heller_SHFD Structure Fire 9-30-13_1628_LR

By Kathryn G. Menu; Photo by Michael Heller (above)


Wesley Howard Carrion, a World War II veteran who was part of the “Red Ball Express” operation, perished after a fire at his Hillside Drive East, Sag Harbor home Monday afternoon.

He was 90 years old.

According to Sag Harbor Village Police Sergeant Paul Fabiano, the Suffolk County Police Department Arson Squad investigated the fire and determined the origin was electrical in nature and classified the incident as accidental.

A medical examiner has yet to determine the cause of Mr. Carrion’s death, said Sgt. Fabiano.

Beloved in his Sag Harbor Hills neighborhood, it was a neighbor who called 911 after seeing smoke emanating from Mr. Carrion’s residence. Sag Harbor Police Detective Jeffrey Proctor and officer Robert Drake arrived at the scene about one minute after the call came in, said Sgt. Fabiano. Able to see the fire actively working in the front bedroom, Sgt. Fabiano said his officers were unable to make entry into the residence due to smoke and high heat.

According to Sgt. Fabiano, Mr. Carrion was not in the room that was fully engaged when police arrived on the scene.

The Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the scene with the East Hampton Fire Department and the East Hampton Fire Marshall also responding. Within minutes of arriving, Sgt. Fabiano said Sag Harbor firefighters were able to contain the fire to the room it originated in, however, Mr. Carrion was found unresponsive in another room of the home.

Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps volunteers performed CPR on Mr. Carrion who Sgt. Fabiano said exhibited a pulse before being transferred to Southampton Hospital were he was declared deceased.

While alone in the house at the time of the fire, according to his daughter, Robyn Hagans, Mr. Carrion was regularly visited by friends in the neighborhood, as well as family, including his son-in-law Andres Bedini who owns Java Nation in Bridgehampton with Mr. Carrion’s other daughter, Cheryl.

The home was Mr. Carrion’s full time residence since 1984 when he retired as a New York City probation officer, said Hagans, but was a part of his life since the mid 1950s, when he and his wife, Lois, bought the bungalow after visiting friends who summered in the enclave.

Mr. Carrion was also a World War II veteran and part of the Red Ball Express, according to his son, Dr. Wesley V. Carrion. The Red Ball Express, largely operated and driven by African American soldiers, was a truck convoy system that supplied Allied forces with fuel and supplies as General George Patton made his way across France and into Germany. Mr. Carrion was one of its drivers.

After the war, he would go to college, his son said, but he returned to the Army, later retiring as a major.

“He didn’t talk about the war a lot, but he was very proud to serve in the Army,” said Dr. Carrion.

Mr. Carrion also loved his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, and playing the game of bridge.

“He was very good to his grandchildren, who he loved very much,” added Hagans.

For Dr. Carrion, his father’s voice is one of many things that will always stay with him.

“His voice made you think the heavens had opened and someone was coming to get you,” said Dr. Carrion.

Beloved not only by his family, but the community that surrounded him, on Wednesday neighbors were still dealing with the news that Mr. Carrion was gone.

“He was my friend. We fought like cats and dogs,” said Eunice Jackie Vaughn, a neighbor and president of the board of the Eastville Community Historical Society.

The two also played bridge together.

“He was very active, as we all were, in the local Sag Harbor Hills Association,” said Vaughn, adding whenever there was work to be done in the community, Mr. Carrion was there to pitch in.

“As I said, that was Wes,” said Vaughn. “He’ll be remembered. I will remember him.”

Mr. Carrion is survived by his three children, Robyn, Wesley and Cheryl, as well as seven grandchildren. According to the family, interment will be privately held with a memorial planned for a later date.

Additional reporting by Tessa Raebeck






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7 Responses to “World War II Veteran Wesley Carrion Perishes After House Fire”

  1. Patricia Sweeney says:

    It’s very sad to me that it appears that the Express rushed to put this picture up of the fully engulfed home, before family members were informed of the tragedy. This picture looks to be taken before the arrival of the fire department, police etc, when the beloved resident who later perished was still inside the home. If so, then the photo and its rapid posting is particularly heartless. Can you clarify why the decision was made to post this photo so rapidly, as if East End newspapers are now in some kind of tabloid competition? Is this the best way to serve the community? Really?

    I think the Express owes the family an apology, and I’m going to write to Bryan about it as well.

    Thanks in advance for answering the questions above.
    Patricia Sweeney

  2. E.M. MAXX says:

    Well said

  3. Kathryn Menu says:

    The Sag Harbor Express published this photo after speaking with the family on Wednesday – two days after the fire. This photograph did not appear on the website prior to that and was taken while the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department and local police were already at the scene.

  4. Cheryl bedi!8 says:

    To clarify, this was not the photo originally published. It was a blurb accompanied by a stock photo of the top of police car. The headline said the fire was fatal. At the time this was published online the family had not been informed of my father’s death. In fact, it was this blurb that caused me to call the hospital. I was feeding my children and my husband was on his way to the hospital when I stopped him while I called the hospital. I was told they could not discuss this on the phone, that I needed to come. When I got there the dr. Informed me dad had passed and noted that my phone call came 3 minutes after they declared him dead. Therefore, no one in the family or authorities had been officially informed by the time the express online blurb was posted. It had been up a good 45 minutes. I do find this action to be irresponsible.
    On another note, I would like to thank the EH and Sag Harbor fire depts. who worked tirelessly and bravely to combat this blaze and the diligence of the sag police dept. Also, the kind words from the community.

  5. Arnold Timer says:

    The Sag Harbor Express seems to have no real policy when it comes to journalistic ethics. I read it because I live here, and I have a web alert for Sag Harbor news so the Express is routinely cited, but I can’t say I find the paper to be consistent or reliable in its reporting. I have seen several careless and inaccurate stories published in the past. Failure to follow up on other stories which are headlines one week simply fade away when the paper loses interest or just forgets about them. I can see no clear agenda here but the paper routinely ignores significant stories or publishes them days after other outlets while giving immediate attention to such stories as the tragic one above. The timeline Cheryl quotes is accurate. The fact it was another photo accompanying the original online article does not mitigate the paper’s complete disregard for the family and friends of the deceased.

  6. E.M. Maxx says:

    To Cheryl… And family … I’m very sorry for your loss

  7. Bryan Boyhan says:

    Our sincerest apologies are offered to the Bedini, Carrion and Hagans family for any additional heartache we may have caused with our reporting of this breaking story.
    -The Express

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