Man killed in crash struggled with son’s death

Man suffers heart attack, hits tree and dies

He sped from the fire station to the scene of the crash — and found his teenage son clinging to life in the back seat.

John Odell knew he did all he could to save 18-year-old Timmy. When his eldest son died in 1989, somehow the volunteer firefighter from Jordan Station found the strength to hold his family together.

Odell, 63, died Wednesday near Dunkirk, N.Y., about 80 kilometres southwest of Buffalo. Reports say the truck Odell was driving drifted off the right shoulder of the road and into some roadside trees.   He was pronounced dead at the scene. His sister, Marilyn Smith, said the family believes he suffered a heart attack.

Before he went on to his dream career of trucking, Odell, who last lived in Niagara Falls but hailed from Jordan Station, fought fires in Lincoln, said Smith.   She said Odell and his brother, also a volunteer firefighter, arrived on the scene after the car driven by Timmy’s girlfriend hit black ice and collided with a tree.   The girl survived, Smith said, but Timmy died in the elevator at the hospital.

And yet it was Odell who took his family’s grief on his shoulders.   “He was going around comforting everybody else, saying, ‘We can do this, we can do this,’ ” she said.   He said he felt everything that could’ve been done to save Timmy was done.   “He said, ‘I know in my heart we were two minutes away. I know the timing. I know how quickly we got here. I know everything that could’ve been done was done, because I was there.’ ”

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