Crews recover body of father killed in Fox Island fire


by Associated Press and KING 5 News

Posted on December 6, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 6 at 6:37 PM

FOX ISLAND, Wash. -- Crews on Friday recovered the body of a doctor who died in a house fire on Fox Island late Wednesday night.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department said Dr. Tom Babson and his 8-year-old daughter Alice died in the fire that burned their waterfront home on 6th Avenue. Firefighters believe Babson died while trying to save his eight-year-old daughter. Neither made it out alive.

Gig Harbor Fire Chief Eric Waters said finding the remains took so long because sections of the home were severely damaged in the fire.

"Quite frankly, I'm not sure what's hoping that up," said Waters.

Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer says Babson was an emergency room doctor who was a commissioned reserve deputy. As a reserve deputy the doctor responded with SWAT teams to provide medical care in emergencies.

"He saved hundreds of people's lives," said Dr. Matt Rice who was not surprised at his friend's actions, "It's very much like Tom."

The fire was reported at 11:10 p.m. Wednesday. The man's wife and two other children made it out of the home with the help of a neighbor.

Late Thursday afternoon firefighters were able to recover the daughter's remains from inside the Fox Island home. The Pierce County Medical Examiner said she died from smoke inhalation.

Alice, who was known as Ali, was a third grader at St. Nicholas Catholic School.

Students, staff and parents planned on holding a private candlelight vigil for her Friday night.

"We're in the middle of winter, it's dark and cold and we're going to have light here," said Principal Michele Corey.

Corey said Ali was "full of life" and was known as being funny, full of good ideas and a good friend.

Rice trained Babson as an emergency room doctor at Madigan Army Medical center in the 1980's when Babson was an officer in the Air Force.

"He was a patriot," said Rice, "He's a very dedicated physician... and he's a great father."

Volunteers are taking donations of clothing, toiletries and gift cards for the family, which can be sent to the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, Peninsula Detachment. The address is 6006 133rd Street, NW Gig Harbor, WA 98332.

MORE: Donate to family's memorial fund

Statement from Babson's employer: 

The Franciscan Health System mourns the loss of Dr. Thomas Babson and his child who perished in a tragic house fire this morning at their home on Fox Island.  Dr. Babson was employed by Team Health Northwest and worked with Franciscan since January, 1997 as an emergency department physician in several of our hospitals including St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor since 2009.
He was known as a very caring and compassionate doctor, always gregarious, a leader in his community, and an extremely proud father.   The Franciscan family is saddened by this sudden loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife June and his children.


KING 5's Drew Mikkelsen contributed to this report.