Volunteer firefighter, Steve Whitcomb, was one of the police, firefighters and ambulances called to the scene where New Hampshire routes 130 and 13 cross on Christmas Eve. A male victim was trapped beneath a car, which was jacked up so that the victim could be pulled out from under it. Upon his arrival, he discovered that the accident victim he had pulled out from under the mangled vehicle was not male, but was female, his daughter and dead.
Whitcomb’s daughter, Katie Hamilton, 30, had been driving a Ford Explorer on snowy roads in Brookline, New Hampshire. at about 9:05 a.m., when she was rear-ended by a Toyota Tundra driven by Greg Cullen, 31, and pushed into oncoming traffic. An approaching Ford F250 driven by James Ciprotti, 37, then hit her vehicle head on. Hamilton, mother of 3, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Whitcomb has been a volunteer with the fire department for 20 years. He and his daughter were very close and managed the same plumbing business. Hamilton also worked as a Zumba instructor.
Fire Chief Charles Corey praised Hamilton’s work for the community, saying “”She would help us with our fundraisers and would do anything for anybody. If we had a big call, she would later come down and bring food for us.” The year has been especially hard for Brookline’s fire department. They had previously lost their assistant chief, and Corey’s father had passed away.
Hamilton, who was pulled from the wreckage by her firefighter father, who discovered only then that he had just pulled his dead daughter from the car, was the only driver injured in the Christmas Eve accident in New Hampshire. She had just dropped off her daughters at their grandma’s house and was headed to work at Whitcomb Plumbing & Heating. She planned to return that evening to celebrate Christmas with her parents later that day.
Police Chief Bill Quigley ruled out excessive speed or driver impairment as causes of the crash, but left open the possibility that “distracted driving” may have been a factor. The case is in the hands of state police, who will do inspections of the involved vehicles as part of their investigation.
Married to Katie Hamilton since 2008, her husband, Liam, described how he had tried to celebrate Christmas morning with their three girls, ages 2, 4 and 9, after the sudden death of their mother, saying, “I tried to make it normal.” The youngest little girl, 2, wanted to know where her Mommy was. Before Liam Hamilton could answer, his middle daughter, 4, explained that “Mommy died.” His eldest daughter, 9, could only weep as her baby sister asked yet again where Mommy was.
Christmas Day was spent among family and friends at the nearby home of Katie Hamilton’s parents. Loved ones were on hand to console Katie’s husband and daughters and to offer support to her father, a firefighter whose worst nightmare, pulling his dead daughter from the wreckage of her car, had come true on Christmas Eve.