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Hathaway benefit brings help, healing

Janet Dyer, left, reunites with Maria and 3-year-old Antwan Hathaway for the first time Sunday since the house fire. Dyer helped get Antwan out of the house and called 911.   - Photo by James Mange
Janet Dyer, left, reunites with Maria and 3-year-old Antwan Hathaway for the first time Sunday since the house fire. Dyer helped get Antwan out of the house and called 911.
— image credit: Photo by James Mange

The more than $2,000 raised at a benefit event, Sunday at the Bremerton Eagles aerie was only part of the story in the Hathaway family’s road to recovery. Maria Hathaway lost her home and her 8-year old daughter, Ariana in a tragic fire, March 13, but she and her three-year old son, Antwan are finding the strength to carry on.

“This means a lot to us,” Hathaway said. “I’m very grateful for everything and to everybody who helped out.”

One of the people who helped the most was Janet Dyer, who saw the Hathaway’s for the first time since the fire. Dyer was driving her cab for Troll Taxi when she spotted the fire and called 911 before going to Maria’s aid.

“I saw her yelling, ‘My baby, my baby, my baby,’” Dyer said, “and I did what I could to help.”

That help included helping Antwan out of the house through his bedroom window, and trying to rescue Ariana.

“I have tremendous admiration for her,” Dyer said. “I can’t believe the things she was able to do to try to save her daughter.”

Dyer said she was trying to find a way to break Ariana’s bedroom window, when Maria came running up from behind her a threw a large rock over her shoulder through the window. “I’m a lot taller than she is,” Dyer said, “and that rock was huge. But she managed to throw that boulder over me. I don’t know how she did it.”

Hathaway then reached in to try to unlock the window latch, when Dyer realized they couldn’t do anything further. “The skin just started bubbling off her arm,” Dyer said. “I pulled her back away. I felt awful about having to pull her away, but I couldn’t let her do it.”

Soon after Hathaway arrived at the benefit, she asked about Dyer, and immediately went over to thank her.

“That meant a lot to me,” Dyer said, “because I’ve been feeling awful about having to pull her away from her daughter ever since then. It felt good to hear Maria thank me.”

Ed and Merry Welch spearheaded the benefit, lining up entertainment acts that performed from 2 p.m. well into the night, and collecting donations for silent auction items that, along with cash donations raised funds putting the total in the Hathaway Fire Victim’s Fund at over $3,600.

“She could not believe so many people were there to help,” Ed said. “It’s a good start, but people are going to have to remember the Hathaways. It’s going to take a lot more, and a long time to finish the job.”

Maria is now recovered enough from her burns that she is able to begin looking for work again, but she’d really like to be able to return to school to earn her GED, then go on to get training to become a medical assistant.

People interested in helping continue the relief effort can contact the Welch’s at photog1146@aol.com, and contributions are still being taken at any Bank of America branch by designating your donation to the Hathaway Fire Victim’s Fund.

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