Dunmorean of the Month: Dunmore Fire Lieutenant Eric Shigo

Dunmorean of month

Lt. Eric Shigo is shown with his son Brayden.

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore fire department lieutenant Eric Shigo didn’t think twice when he risked his life and entered a burning building on Third Street last month to save other lives. 

And because of his heroic effort as well as those of the Dunmore and Scranton fire departments, Serenity Session, 3, is alive today. 

Her dad, Darkell Session, 24, also survived. 

The fire that killed a mother and three of her young children in Dunmore March 9 was ruled accidental and may have been fueled by debris left in another apartment, Lackawnna County District Attorney Mark Powell reported.

Arson was ruled out as a cause of the fire, added Powell in a statement last month. Powell said the fire appeared to have started in the middle room of the vacant apartment on the second floor of 610 Third Street. Ebony Thompson, her fiancé Darkell Session and their four children had recently moved into the apartment one floor above. 

Thompson, 26, and the couple’s daughter London Session, 5, and Tiara Session, 2, died in the fire. Their son, Dallas Session, 1, died a day later. 

Darkell Session, who jumped out of a second floor window, and Serenity survived.

Investigators from the Dunmore police, Scranton police and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives could not make a conclusive determination of the initial source of heat or what ignited.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Saluting all the members of the Dunmore Fire Department. This group photo was was taken by Joe Klapatch. He wrote the book “The Boys from Bucktown” the history of the Dunmore Fire Department.

Former Dunmore Councilman Paul Nardozzi, a former police officer, praised the Dunmore and Scranton fire departments for their heroic efforts. “Dunmore suffered an unimaginable tragedy with the loss of four innocent people, three who were children,” he said. “If not for the efforts of all the brave and highly trained firefighters from Dunmore, Scranton and surrounding communities, as well as our excellent Dunmore police department, the loss of life would have been worse. 

“Lieutenant Eric Shigo from the Dunmore fire department risked all he has in life to enter that third floor inferno and rescue two of those children, one who died a day later but one who survived the blaze. Eric, himself, was trapped and disoriented for a while. Thus, Fireman’s MAYDAY that went out.

“The entire community and myself personally have been acknowledging Eric for his efforts to save lives that would have been lost. We all need to thank these brave firefighters and police officers. God bless the first responders and especially the family with so many lives lost.”

Chris DeNaples is Dunmore borough fire chief. He was also at the scene of the fire.

Shigo, who has 16 years experience as a Dunmore fireman, was extremely humble when interviewed by The Dunmorean.

“Four of us were initially called to the scene of the fire,” he said. “But there were five people to save. Darkell jumped out of a window, but five were inside.

“A total of 12 more firefighters from Dunmore and 10 from Scranton were called to help. Plus we had volunteers. Larry Waters was my driver. Dunmore firemen Jordan Wisniewski and John Rebovich were also first responders.

“When we pulled into the scene the fire was going pretty hard on the second floor and moving up. The exterior steps were the only way up. I ran all the way up. Two of our men pulled the hand line to extinguish.

“I was able to get Serenity, who was semi conscious, and Dallas, who was unconscious, out. I handed Serenity off to Larry Waters to the front porch. He threw the ladder up. The PA and Commonwealth ambulances were there to provide CPR and transported Serenity to Geisinger CMC and Dallas to Moses Taylor. Serenity was treated for smoke inhalation and released the next day. Dallas was transported to the Lehigh Valley Burn Unit, but died a day later.”

fire fundraiser pic 2

Young fire survivor Serenity Session is shown looking at an Easter themed raffle basket held by Mary Kate Cadden of Dunmore.

The Dunmore community responded quickly and a fund raiser was held at the Fireside Martini Grill in Dunmore March 15. 

“Larry Waters and I met Serenity later at the hospital. We met the mom and dad of both Darkell and Ebony at the fund raiser,” said Shigo. “The parents were very appreciative. Serenity was there at the fund raiser too.

“This is the worst fire I was ever involved in as far as fatalities. This one will take a toll emotionally. I only wish I got everybody out.

“It is a feeling that is hard to put into words. It is why I do this job…to save lives.”

Jimmy Reese, a partner with Art and Sara Ware as owners of the Fireside Martini Grill, said the idea for the fund raiser started with the Facebook page, “Dunmore, Greatest Place on Earth.” Members of the Facebook page quickly met with Reese and his partners to arrange the fund raiser.

“We had the venue and wanted to help,” said Reese. “Most of the local businesses got quickly involved with donations. Most restaurants in Dunmore plus some from Mid Valley, Scranton and Moscow made donations. Over 120 trays of pizza were donated. Over $1200 was raised for the family. It was a nice turnout.

“There were 118 gift certificates and baskets donated. Serenity had her eye on a basket with the Easter Bunny. Well, we made sure she won it.

“There is a beautiful picture of Mary Kate Cadden, one of our employees, presenting Serenity with the basket. It was so touching.”

Dunmorean of the Month: Jack Callahan

Dunmorean of the Month - Jack2By Emily Gerchman

Jack Callahan will turn two years old this March 8th. He’s a fan of climbing on things and getting into trouble. He’s quite a chatterbox according to his mom and dad. He also loves Sesame Street and is always up for a good dance party. 

Molly Callahan describes her youngest son as a funny and happy little kid. Jack is also a tough little guy, and at his young age, he’s much braver than most.

It was around this time last year, Molly noticed Jack was acting just a little bit off.

“He had signs of ear infections, like really high fever, really lethargic, crying all the time and that just wasn’t him at all,” said Molly.

Jack was diagnosed with a double ear infection. But even with an antibiotic, his current symptoms persisted and new ones popped up. He would suffer from nosebleeds on occasion. Molly and her husband Dan also noticed Jack had bruising on parts of his body that just “didn’t make sense.” So they took their son for a visit to his pediatrician, Doctor Jeffrey Zero. 

“He is the best doctor because he doesn’t scare you,” Molly explained. “He’s very mellow but firm, and his demeanor changed as soon as I pointed out the bruises.”

“So Jack and I went to get some blood work done, and they ordered it stat. A couple hours later, Doctor Zero called and said, ‘Okay, do you want to go to Danville, Hershey or CHOP?’”

Molly and Dan rushed their little boy to Geisinger Medical Center near Danville, the closest of the three options, and that’s where doctors ultimately diagnosed Jack with AML-M7 a type of acute myeloid leukemia.

On and off, Molly, Dan, and little Jack spent 116 days in at Geisinger near Danville.

Dunmorean of the Month - Jack Callahan 4Dan Callahan had to put his job of selling homes with Jack Ruddy Real Estate on hold for a time. He’s also a seventh grade math teacher in the Dunmore School District. Thankfully Dunmore was able to get a sub whenever he needed to be with Jack or Jack’s older brother, Cooper.

Molly teaches art at Pocono Mountain, but being that she had just been off on maternity leave after having Jack, taking another leave of absence wasn’t an option.

“I would sleep in Danville, drive to the Poconos and teach, go back to Danville or Dunmore depending on if it was my night.”

Luckily for the Callahans, they had an army of family and friends in their corner — among them Dan’s mom, Maggie, Molly’s parents, Jack and Rosemary, and her sister Amy. They never hesitated to help them with whatever they needed, whenever they needed it. 

“We just made it work,” said Molly. “It’s one of those things that people are always like ‘I don’t know how you did it’ and I’m like, I do. Anyone would do it, you just have to.”

During the months Jack spent at Geisinger, he went through four rounds of chemotherapy and had nine blood transfusions. 

“When Jack was in day one, they gave him a blood donation right then,” Molly recalled. “He went from being gray and just laying on you to happy, smiley, waving. Just from one blood transfusion.”

Dunmorean of the Month - Jack Callahan“[Jack’s] brother turned four during this whole thing, and it was hard to explain what was going on… We joked it was ‘super hero blood.’ We’d say he’s getting Spiderman this time, and they’re gonna give him Captain America next time. The doctors actually…tell kids that now. Because it’s true. It really makes everything better.”

This past September, doctors delivered the happy news that Jack was MRD negative, meaning all the cancer cells were gone. Now happy and healthy, he’ll celebrate his second birthday on March 8.

“The oncologists have stressed you need to celebrate every milestone. Celebrate his birthday, a year since diagnosed, then like crazy celebrate when it’s a year in remission.”

Celebrate is exactly what the Callahans plan to do, while paying it forward at the same time.

A community blood drive in Jack’s name is planned from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 7 one day before Jack’s birthday at the Dunmore Community Center. 

“Every time you donate blood you save 3 people’s lives. Well 9 people because he had 9 blood transfusions in the 100 days, 9 people saved Jack’s life,” said Molly. “…it’s such an easy thing to do, and the cost and nervousness and time have no comparison to what you’re doing for these kids and adults who need it.”

Due to the number of volunteers and equipment available, only 84 people will be able to donate at this event, and in typical Dunmore fashion, 74 people have already signed up as of February 26. So while walk-ins are welcome, interested parties are highly encouraged to pre-register online.

blood drive“The way everyone in this town cares about each other is one hundred percent why we live in this town. People are just willing to do anything for each other. So we’re not surprised at the outpouring we’ve gotten, but we’re certainly overwhelmed and humbled,” said Molly.

“If anything comes from all of this, I just can’t wait to see all the ways Jack pays it forward. We’re trying our best to give back in little ways, but there will never be enough to thank everyone for doing what they did for us.”

If you would like to take part in the first ever “JackAttack Blood Drive,” call 1-800-RED-CROSS for availability or visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive.

Dunmorean of the Month: Paul Jackson

Dunmorean of the Month - Paul Jackson

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore’s Paul Jackson has been serving the community for 35 years through his advertising business PS Advertising Specialty Company. 

His wife Sharon was very much a part of it. But his beloved wife suddenly passed away at 62 after an illness this past Dec. 10. 

Now the long time Dunmore businessman is carrying on with the business, located at his home, 6 Debbie Drive, Dunmore, with the help of the couple’s daughter, Dana, 23.

Dana is also the assistant director of Crimson Company Performing Arts, the Dunmore High School Drama Club.

As marriage and business partners, Jackson and his late wife served the Dunmore community with zeal and love. His wife was his marketing and advertising partner in the business. Now his daughter Dana will help her dad carry on that tradition.

Jackson, 63, and his late wife always loved serving the Dunmore community and surrounding areas. Their customer base reached as far as Canada and Europe.

Jackson’s healing and grieving over his wife’s sudden passing includes telling the story and recalling lifelong memories of his loved one.

“She was very much a part of the business,” he said. “We’ve been in business since 1985 and she initially helped part time while working at North Penn Bank in Scranton where she was secretary to the president. She left that position in 2002 to work strictly with me for our PS Advertising business. She did a lot of presentations and most of the art work. She was very good at that. My daughter is going to try to fill some of that void now.

“I am able to find comfort in that my wife did not have to go through a lot of suffering. She was very sick and was facing a lot of suffering with a recent cancer diagnosis. I know she did not want to suffer. I find comfort through God that she is at peace.”

Son of the late William and Freda Jackson, the Dunmore businessman said he will continue to serve Dunmore and the general public.

“We match customers with promotional products that work with what they want to accomplish through advertising.

“Most of our customers are established. Most of our business is now done by phone or internet. We recently started online fundraising stores. Some of our customers from this include Dunmore High School, Marywood University, YMCA swimming, local dance studios and businesses. 

34126_134205526603868_2082152_n“We offer promotional and printing products such as calendars, apparel and clothing, signs, banners and business cards. We are very big on clothing and apparel.”

Jackson said his idea to start his own advertising business began when he was working for a local balloon manufacturer. 

“I asked my boss if I could sell my own balloons on the side. I got the okay to do it and people started asking me for pens, t-shirts and mugs. That’s how it all started. I decided to start my own advertising business in 1985.”

Jackson initially ran his advertising business from 1985 to 1994 in Dickson City. He and his late wife then bought a building in Scranton and ran it there from 1994 to 2008 before deciding to move it to the couple’s Debbie Drive home in Dunmore.

Jackson, a 1974 North Pocono graduate, and his late wife Sharon, a 1975 Dunmore graduate, were married 40 years before her passing. The couple’s daughter Dana is a 2014 Dunmore graduate and received a bachelor of arts degree in Theatre from Marywood University in 2018.

Sharon’s mother, Jane Seeger, Dunmore, died at 89 in May due to pancreatic cancer. Sharon was helping her mom deal with her cancer diagnosis while she was not feeling well herself. Her dad Bill Seeger, Dunmore, is now grieving over the passing last year of both his wife and daughter.

“My daughter and I have him over often for dinner,” said Jackson. “He is on his own, but we are a family. The people of Dunmore have been so kind and supportive to us during our grieving. They have been so wonderful offering us meals, comfort and plenty of emotional support. 

“My wife would want us to go on and we will continue to serve the community through our advertising company and business products. My daughter is slowly learning the business. We are grateful to the community for their ongoing support.”