Heartbreak ruined the holiday of a volunteer firefighter and his family on Christmas Eve when he responded to a horrific car crash and pulled the mangled body of a dying woman from the wreckage only to discover it was his own daughter.
The New Hampshire Union Leader identified the firefighter as Stephen Whitcomb and his daughter, as mother of three, Katie Hamilton, 30, of Brookline, N.H.
"It's a sad, sad day for all of us, not just because it's Christmas Eve, but because of the relationship of the deceased," said Brookline Police Chief Bill Quigley in a WMUR report.
"I know that she is a young mother. She's, like I said, been in the community for a long time. Her family are impeccable people who are highly respected throughout the town and surrounding communities," added Quigley.
The WMUR report said the young mother was the only fatality in the three-car crash on Route 13 in Brookline on Tuesday morning.
Fire Chief Charles Corey, told the Union Leader that Hamilton was a big supporter of the volunteer fire department who was "a very good person."
"She was always there," he said.
Instead of gifts and holiday greetings, grieving friends of the family poured out messages of encouragement and condolences on the Facebook page of her mother, Catherine Whitcomb.
"Cathi I am so very sorry and saddened about Katie. You are in my never ending prayers. If I can do anything for you, let me know," wrote Brenda Gould Thatcher on Christmas.
"Didn't know Katie that long but fell in love with her and her engaging smile and person. Praying for comfort and solace for you all. If in any way I can do anything for you, Catherine Whitcomb, please ask!" wrote Ruth Bodycott.
"Omg… My heart goes out to you and your family today. Nothing is more horrible than losing your child. There is a very special place in heaven for her, and for you as well. Sending so much love your way. If there is anything you need, even a shoulder, I am here for you. May you find the peace and comfort you need," wrote Darlene Garretson-Watts.