Wednesday, May 16, 2012

TOP STORY >> Another benefit to help first-responders

Leader staff writer

Another benefit concert has been scheduled to help the families of two Jacksonville firefighters and a police officer.

Two were injured and one killed while trying to help a woman who wrecked her vehicle in a ditch on Hwy. 161 on March 19.

The woman’s son, Bryce Allen, 47, drove through a police barricade striking all three first responders.

Fire Capt. Donny Jones, 56, died at the scene, while fellow firefighter Jason Bowmaster and police officer Daniel DiMatteo were critically injured.

Jill Ross, the city’s human resource director, who is helping coordinate the benefits, said Bowmaster and DiMatteo are now home from the hospital, but Bowmaster faces a number of surgeries and is not yet walking. DiMatteo is able to walk with assistance and is also facing more medical visits and therapy.

A concert at the Electric Cowboy in Little Rock, along with a silent auction, a car wash and a night where Jacksonville’s Chili’s restaurant donated a portion of its sales has already raised more than $6,000 to help the families.

“That doesn’t include the numerous generous donations that have been dropped off at city hall, the fire stations, police department or Arvest Bank,” said Ross, “but more is needed.”

This next benefit is at 7 p.m. June 1 at Vino’s in Little Rock and is sponsored by the Edge, 100.3. There will also be an on-line silent auction that ties in with the concert.

The Vino concert is open to all ages and four central Arkansas bands, two with police officers or 911 dispatchers in them.

The bands are Cinders 2 Ascension, with Jacksonville 911 dispatcher George Platt and police officer Grant Roberts, Three Sixteen, with local 911 dispatcher Eric Powell, More Than Sparrows, and Transcend.

The cost is $10 at the door and all proceeds go into the tragedy funds to continue to help Jones’s family, Bowmaster and DiMatteo.

Jones’ death was the first death in the line of duty for the Jacksonville Fire Department.

Jones had three brothers and he was the eldest.

His youngest brother, Jon, a Jacksonville engineer/firefighter, said, “He inspired me to become a fireman. It was a tragic loss of a great firefighter, a great father, a great person.”

Allen has been charged with second-degree murder and criminal attempt to commit murder.

Allen has claimed that his accelerator had stuck.

The police report said the investigation showed that Allen made no attempt to brake, accelerated before hitting the three men and appeared to be aiming toward them. Allen allegedly has a violent past and a history of mental problems, including being bipolar, delusions about the Ku Klux Klan and hallucinations.