Thursday, July 19, 2001

Victims were kind, helpful

Neighborhood mourns father and daughter

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

[photo] Fairfax Officer Tim Vogel (left) and Sgt. Jeff Bronson stand with Andrea Spritzer, whose home on Simpson Street was damaged by flooding on Little Duck Creek in Fairfax. The home at left is where Ronald Davenport and his daughter Anna died.
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        FAIRFAX — Andrea Spritzer remembered little things about the family next door: gifts of flowers, a helping hand and kindness. Especially the kindness.

        She recalled how her neighbor, Ronald Davenport, often would mow her lawn when he cut his own.

        “He never asked, he always just did it,” she said. “They do everything for you.”

        Other neighbors along Simpson Street in Fairfax felt the same way about Mr. Davenport and his family.

        That's why Wednesday was tough on the short street in this quiet village, as neighbors grieved the loss of a friend.

        Mr. Davenport, 48, and his daughter, Anna Davenport, 21, were killed when a flash flood roared into the basement of their home at 3983 Simpson St. early Wednesday, trapping them in at least 7 feet of water.

        “That was a shock,” said Ms. Spritzer, quietly tearing up. “They gave me flowers every year.”

        Mr. Davenport's wife and their 11-year-old twins were uninjured.

[photo] John Pavely stacks flood-damaged belongings from the home of his parents, Albert and Eileen Pavely of Fairfax.
(Gary Landers photos)
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        “He was a good guy, always willing to help,” said Pauline Wilson, who lives two doors down from the Davenport home. “He was always doing yardwork. Everybody knew him. He was always outside. It's just a nightmare.”

        Early Wednesday, Ms. Wilson was watching Little Duck Creek — which wraps around the neighborhood — rise. At about 1:40 a.m. she heard screaming. Later, her heart sank as she watched firefighters pump hundreds of gallons of water from the basement of the house down the street.

        “I heard (his wife) screaming,” she said. “She was hysterical. I never dreamed that Ron and his daughter were in there. With all the water that came out of there, it must have been up to the ceiling.”

        Mr. Davenport worked second shift as an engine tester at GE's Aircraft Engine plant in Evendale. He joined the company in March 1978.

        “We're greatly saddened by the tragedy to the Davenport family, and the company's thoughts and prayers go out to the family in this extremely difficult time,” GE spokesman Christian Flathman said.

    • The Fairfax Civic Association has set up a fund for the Davenport family. Donations can be made at any Provident Bank.
    • Donations to the Davenport Family Memorial Fund also can be made at any Firstar.
        Anna Davenport worked at Firstar. She also attended Northern Kentucky University.

        “I knew the gentleman. I knew the family because it is such a small community,” Fairfax Police Lt. Steve Kelly said. “Knowing the people ... it's just more personable, but yet harder.”

        The Davenports have lived in Fairfax — a community of 2,500 — for about 15 years.

        Along Simpson Street, people were busy but somber Wednesday morning as they started to clean up the mess. Residents shoveled mud and water from their driveways; village maintenance workers took to the street with a backhoe and a fire hose.

        Little Duck Creek was again meandering peacefully through the neighborhood.

        And Ms. Spritzer, who left her home just before the flood, gingerly peeked into her living room. She found the hardwood floors covered in thick mud and several items that had been in the back of the house moved to the front.

        At the Davenport home, several family members — with a police escort — spent about 30 minutes in the house. They occasionally carried out items and placed them in their car.

        “To think you drowned in your own home,” Ms. Wilson said. “That's frightening.”

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