Pictures, taken 19 August 2008.
|The Connecticut River at Columbia, NH, a little below Drega’s property, looking north. The river is high, in flood, here. It is undoubtedly washing away someone’s “private property” while adding to someone else’s “private property.” The New Hampshire/Vermont border is the low-water mark on the west (left) side of the river. The railroad tracks are state-owned, and are still active.|
|In 1997 this was the parking lot of Prescott Farms (now the Family Dollar), where Scott Phillips first contacted Carl Drega. As you look south down Main Street, you will see a yellow building. The News & Sentinel building is directly across the street (on the north side of Bridge Street) concealed behind the grey building. On the north corner of Bridge and Main is the site of an abandoned gas station (where serial killer Christopher Wilder shot himself). Ducret’s Sporting Goods (maroon awning) and Town Hall are also concealed behind the grey building.|
|Looking north across the parking lot to the front door of the IGA, where Drega shot Troopers Phillips and Lord. When the gunfire started, the store employees moved the customers into the back of the store, into the walk-in coolers. The first rumors to circulate were that a botched robbery had taken place, and there were two suspects. The store was smaller in 1997, with a wing added on the right since that day.|
|Looking back from the front door of the IGA across the parking lot, you get a better feeling for the scale. The self-rental units on the left weren’t there in 1997. Rather than head to the IGA and safety, and risk civilian casualties from wild rounds, Trooper Phillips headed to the empty field to draw fire away from citizens. The Green Mountain Snack Bar (now the Northwoods Truck Stop) is out of sight to the right of frame.|
|The News & Sentinel hasn’t changed much since 1997. The two windows on the front left belonged to Vickie Bunnell. When Drega came, he walked up the left side of the building, outdoors, to catch people running out the back. When I took this photo, my back was to the side of the yellow building seen in the second picture above.|
|Vickie’s plaque is still on the front of the building, beside the front door.|
|Looking back toward the Town Hall/Police Station. The little park is the town’s Civil War memorial. The picture was taken from approximately where Vickie was shot down. Drega stood at the corner of the News and Sentinel building. (The back door to the building is just out-of-frame to the left.) In line with the corner of the buildin, just a bit below the front tire of the red car, you can make out the back of the memorial stone erected by the town.|
|The town’s monument to the slain. It’s located approximately where Dennis was shot down.|
|The railway overpass in Bloomfield, VT, where Drega ambushed Wayne Saunders. The badge that saved Wayne’s life is on display in Concord now. The Stratford EMTs were unable to remove Wayne’s shirt, because the metal from the badge was embedded in his chest. The railroad is the Maine Central, and it is an active track.|
|The Pittsburg Fire Station, “Spirit Station,” raised as a memorial to Les Lord. Firefighters and EMTs from as far away as Methuen, Mass., provided the volunteer labor to build the station. If your snowmobile falls through the ice on First Connecticut Lake, the rescuers will come from here. For Viable Paradise alumnae: The base for the little model house I use to talk about plotting a novel is scrap from this building.|
|The fire bell inside Spirit Station, Pittsburg, NH. Notice the dates on the inscription.|
|A portrait of Les Lord as Pittsburg’s fire chief. It hangs in the classroom in Spirit Station.|
|US Rt. 3 from Pittsburg to Colebrook is the Trooper Leslie G. Lord Highway. This photo was taken just south of Pittsburg village, looking south.|
|US Rt. 3 from North Stratford to Colebrook is the Trooper Scott E. Phillips Highway. This is just north of Stratford.|
|Blue Mountain in Columbia was renamed Bunnell Mountain, and the Vickie Bunnell Preserve is located on and around its summit. The preserve is open to the public for hiking, bird watching, nature study, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, hunting, fishing, and snow-shoeing.|
The New Hampshire Press Association grants an annual Dennis Joos Memorial Award. Dennis himself was given a posthumous Carnegie Medal for Extraordinary Heroism, 17 December 1998. The medal is given to persons who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.
New Hampshire State Trooper First Class Charles M. West was awarded 1998 Police Officer of the Year by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and PARADE Magazine for his actions in the final confrontation with Drega in the Vermont woods.
For ourselves, in our own minor way, our novel, The Stars Asunder, was dedicated to the dead and wounded from this event; the novel itself is our working through, in fictional form, our reactions. It’s what authors do.
So far as I am aware, there is no memorial to Carl Drega.