By Arielle Dollinger
A Northport resident started a fundraising campaign this week in an effort to help a fellow Northport man in the wake of the Dec. 5 house fire that killed the man’s mother and destroyed his house.
The gofundme.com campaign, created on Dec. 6 by Northport resident Robert Morsch, had raised $2,585 – the sum of 48 donations – as of 5:20 p.m. Tuesday.
Ellen Carberry and her son, John, had escaped an active house fire when she re-entered the Theron Place home in what police said may have been an attempt to rescue two cats. The alleged effort ended in her death.
Morsch, who said he and John have been friends for about 10 years, said on Tuesday that he created the gofundme.com page after several people asked him where they could send money to help Carberry.
“The support has just been overwhelming,” said Morsch. “I’ve actually seen a lot of strangers, people that definitely don’t know John [donating]. Friends of friends and things like that.”
Police arrived at the house at 7:40 a.m. on Dec. 5 to find Ellen, 64, dead inside the house. She was pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner, police said. As of press time on Tuesday, the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
John, 30, a brown-haired man with a brown, scruffy beard, remained at the scene during preliminary police investigation.
He had gotten his mother out of the house and gone for a neighbor’s help, according to Anuj Rihal, who said he is a longtime friend of John’s. When John was not looking, his mother re-entered the house, Rihal said.
“As soon as she opened the door she got engulfed in the flames,” Rihal said. “She died almost instantly.”
John was going to run back in for her, but was stopped; it took four people to hold him back, Rihal said.
The smoke was thick and worried neighbors, said neighbor Jill Krahels.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” she said.
Neighbor Fran Quist, a 12-year Northport resident, knew Ellen in an “over-the-fence” way and saw her as “an old-fashioned type of lady.”
“She was old-fashioned in her thinking; very, turn-of-the-century kind of, you know, you churn your own butter, you cut your own wood,” Quist said.
A few years ago, when Quist cut down a tree near her house, Carberry asked her if she could have the wood, Quist recounted.
“She didn’t believe in oil companies, she wasn’t going to pay those ‘bloodsuckers,’” Quist said. “She heated up her house with a stove, a wood burning stove.”
According to Quist, Ellen worked in research. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory confirmed on Friday that she worked there as a “seasonal driver” in 2000.
Rihal said Tuesday that John’s father, Ellen’s husband, died of brain cancer about a year ago. John moved back home to help his mother four months ago, Rihal said, after Ellen was diagnosed with clinical depression and early Alzheimer’s disease.
To donate to the gofundme.com campaign, call Bobby Morsch at 516-901-6003 or visit www.gofundme.com/iccj14.