Photojournalist's brother killed in fire

Jan 1, 2003

Tragedy struck the family of freelance photojournalist David Sokol, an NPPA member based in Wakefield, MA, on Wednesday December 17, when a two-alarm fire destroyed Sokol's parents' home and killed his 16-year-old brother Peter, who was the youngest of eight children. The fire left the family, who are well known in the Wakefield community where they've lived with their children for twenty years, homeless and without possessions. Peter, a Wakefield High School junior, was one of eight children of Laurie and Steven Sokol.

Sokol rushed to the scene Wednesday when he received a page to cover a house fire while on assignment for the Wakefield Daily Item. It turned out to be his family's home. Toni Carolina, a photographer for Massachusetts Community Newspaper Company, arrived at the scene shortly after Sokol. "David said when he got the page he was praying that the number of the house was wrong," Carolina said. "He was in shock when I got there. They lost everything."

According to a story in the Boston Herald, fire investigators suspect that Peter Sokol was playing with a flammable liquid in the back yard of the home and accidentally caught himself on fire. The story says Wakefield police believe that he panicked and ran into the house for help, catching the house on fire in the process. Siblings who were home at the time ran outside calling for help, witnesses said. Firefighters found the youth's body in the living room of the home two hours later after the fire was extinguished. The structure was destroyed, leaving the family with nothing.

Peter Rossi, who is editor of the Daily Item in Wakefield, told News Photographer that Peter delivered the Daily Item at one time and that his sister, Jennifer, is currently one of their newspaper carriers. Rossi also said that David began his photographic career with the Daily Item and that his photographs appear in several of the area's publications now, including the Wakefield newspaper.

A fund to assist the family has been established by the Daily Item at The Savings Bank in Wakefield. According to Rossi, the current goal is to meet the family's immediate needs such as housing, clothing and food. The Savings Bank is also accepting donations of food, clothing and gift certificates. "Peter's parents will have direct access to the fund," Rossi said, "and the bank is also accepting donations of food, clothing, and gift certificates."

Contributions can be sent to:
The Peter Sokol Memorial Fund
c/o The Savings Bank
PO Box 30
Wakefield, MA 01880