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Old 04-19-2005, 09:42 AM
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Unhappy Very sad news!

Friends, family mourn man killed in house fire
By ANNE MARIE APOLLO, [email protected]
April 19, 2005

The Coors Light hat, beer and pack of cigarettes circling a cross in front of 9820 Kentucky Ave. in Bonita Springs are reminders of a young man. They were the favored accessories of a guy who friends say spent his days supporting his mother, helping out neighbors and racing the boats that he loved.

Small tokens mean more to the friends of Erick Wahlberg now in the void left by his death.

"He'd do anything for you," said neighbor Christin Madden, who was among those responsible for the small memorial. "He was like a brother."

The 27-year-old became the city's first fire fatality of the year early Saturday in a blaze that shot flames 30 to 40 feet in the air.

State Fire Marshal Detective Ed Blanco said Monday he believed Wahlberg's death was accidental. His investigation showed the fire was started by an open flame in the home's living room area, most likely a candle.

He said he was unsure if the home had smoke detectors.

According to information from the Bonita Springs Fire Control and Rescue District, 190 people died and 18,000 home fires were reportedly caused by candles nationwide in 2001, when candle fires hit their peak. The fires were most commonly caused by people leaving the room, falling asleep or leaving combustible material near the flame.

The wood-frame house was destroyed by the blaze. Its roof caved in and windows shattered.

Neighbors alerted to the fire by Wahlberg's girlfriend, who had been sitting outside when the living room ignited. They called 911 but were helpless to get inside.

The only thing left unscathed by the blaze was a pickup, emblazoned with Wahlberg Racing, still parked in the driveway.

Wahlberg loved speed, recalled his former racing partner, Ben Hedrick.

Just a few years after Wahlberg got into the sport, his OSS Vee Lite boat, carrying the name Team IMCO, came in fifth in the Offshore Super Series Powerboat Racing Association's 2004 World Championship. Wahlberg, who also cared for his mother after his father died in 1996, was able to devote himself to boating, Hedrick said.

The adrenaline of the race, the rush of being on television and support of fans drew Wahlberg to the sport, Hedrick said.

He had been looking forward to the new season, which starts this weekend, friends said. Hedrick said the racing community has been reaching out to him with support and expressing its sadness.

They plan to pass around a checkered flag for signatures as a memorial, he said. Hedrick also is looking into the possibility of helping to race with Team IMCO next week in Wahlberg's memory.

The young man will be remembered locally, as well. Madden said though there will be no formal funeral and Wahlberg will be cremated, his friends planned to gather at a Bonita Springs bar next weekend for their own tribute.

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Old 04-19-2005, 09:47 AM
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Old 04-19-2005, 09:52 AM
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Default Re: Very sad news!

I will miss you my friend.

Julie
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Old 04-19-2005, 09:54 AM
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Unhappy Re: Very sad news!

I'm sorry. I didn't know there was a thread regarding this tragedy already.
Posted in the Racer's milling area from yesterday:

Godspeed.


http://www.offshoreonly.com/forums/s...d.php?t=100808

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Old 04-19-2005, 11:23 AM
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rest in peace...
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Old 04-19-2005, 11:27 AM
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Old 04-19-2005, 11:53 AM
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Default Re: Very sad news!

wow, very sad...

Prayers to the friends and family.
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Old 04-19-2005, 01:15 PM
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Old 04-19-2005, 08:36 PM
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Old 04-19-2005, 09:03 PM
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Sad News May GOD Bless Him and His Family
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