OC Church Fire Leaves Dana Truitt Fighting For Her Life - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

OC Church Fire Leaves Dana Truitt Fighting For Her Life

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LAUREL, Del. – It has been just over one week since the tragic fire at Saint Paul's By The Sea Episcopal Church.

It took the life of John Raymond Sterner, 56, of Ocean City, who police say started the fire, and the beloved pastor of the church, Reverend David Dingwall.

Now, WMDT is learning more about the third victim of the fire, Dana Truitt, 56, of Ocean City, who was reportedly volunteering in Shepherd's Crook when the church caught on fire.

According to family members, Dana moved to Ocean City, Maryland from Laurel, Delaware about three years ago, and shortly after she began volunteering. She also worked at Buckingham Hotel in Ocean City, but now, she is currently in Johns Hopkins Bayview Burn Center in stable but critical condition.

"We're on the verge of losing somebody, she's there fighting for her life," says Stacy Smith, Dana Truitt's daughter.

Smith says Dana has burns covering 21 percent of her body, and she had to have her head shaved. She is currently on life support, and just opened her eyes for the first time recently.

"She can nod her head yes or no, she can move her hands a little bit, and her feet a little," says Smith. "She doesn't really know what's going on."

Family members say Dana's face is completely swollen, and so far, she has had two surgeries.

"She's got three more coming, we don't know, it could be more," says Bernice Carey, Dana's sister. "They're saying she'll have to stay there two months."

Carey says when she went to visit Dana with other family members, she was stunned.

"We went in the room and said that's not my sister."

Family members say Dana's current condition is the result of doing something that has been a huge part of her life: volunteering.

"She really loved it there, she'd give her right arm, just to help out," says Carey.

"She liked helping other people, that's what she does," says Smith. "When she wasn't working she went there, as soon as she walked in there she smiled. She loved the people."

One person she reportedly dealt with on a regular basis was Sterner. Smith says that when she went to help her mom at the church, he was often there.

"He was there pretty much all the time, when the church was open he was there," says Smith. "I've seen him around, I didn't socialize with him, but I never thought he would, or never though anybody could do this kind of thing."

The family says they call the hospital multiple times every day, and try to make the trip to Johns Hopkins as much as they can, but with the distance and upcoming holiday, it is not easy.

"It's rough," says Carey. "Thanksgiving was terrible, we could not even eat because we were crying. Now Christmas is coming, and we won't have her there either."

Now, the family is asking for prayers, and any information behind Sterner's motive.

"Did he write a suicide note? We want answers, that's all we ask," says Smith.

The family is looking to collect money to help buy Dana a wig and pay her hospital bills. For more information on how you can help, call Bernice Carey at 302-280-6817, or the family says you can send donations to 28577 Seaford Road, Laurel, DE 19956.

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