Updated 07/18/2011 06:55 AM
Vigil held for Salem house explosion victims
Community members come together to remember the five victims of a deadly home explosion in Salem, and thank the first responders who made it to the scene. Our Matt Hunter reports.
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SALEM, N.Y. -- Still reeling from a senseless tragedy that took the lives of five people and injured six others, the small Washington County town of Salem comes together to honor those lives lost and help one another cope with the pain.
Organized by the United Methodist Church and First United Presbyterian Church, Sunday evening's prayer vigil is the first time the community has come together in a formal setting since Wednesday's massive explosion near Routes 22 and 29 killed 41-year-old Tammy Palmer, her 19-year-old son Lawrence Berg II, his girlfriend 19-year-old Clarissa Porlier, 16-year-old Robert Sanford and Niyah Duram, Palmer's infant granddaughter.
Pastor Donna Jackson said, "In times of grief we kind of feel like everything is falling and caving, and you really gain strength from one another and come together as a community."
Lawrence Berg Sr. said, "I have a brother that doesn't want to leave the house, my son's best friend doesn't want to leave the house, his best friend doesn't even want to talk to me on the phone. So a lot of people, not just me, a lot of people are devastated by this. It was senseless."
Attending Sunday's vigil with more than a dozen family members, Lawrence Berg Sr. In addition to losing his son, granddaughter and ex-wife Wednesday, his daughter Alicia is still fighting for her life.
Berg said, "She's getting another operation tomorrow. This his her third. They still haven't fixed her femur. I'm afraid to call half the time."
The organizers of the prayer vigil say they're in the process of setting up a fund for family members.
While no amount of prayers or donations will bring back the deceased, they can provide comfort to grieving loved ones.
Berg said, "I thought humanity took a back turn, but it shows as you see the gathering, a lot of people still care. People hugging, showing love, respect, remorse. They didn't even know our family."