New Bremen teen dies in fire

ST. MARYS — A New Bremen teenager was killed in a fire early Sunday morning.

According to Auglaize County Sheriff’ Al Solomon, Bernard “Ben” P. Homan, 19, of New Bremen, died in a camper, which caught on fire. The cause of the fire is not known at this time.

On Sunday morning at approximately 1:12 a.m., St. Marys Township Fire Department and St. Marys Rescue Squad were dispatched to a camper fire in a field off of Southland Road, east of County Road 66A. The caller reported there were still people inside the camper.

Deputies also responded and were informed by firefighters that one person was deceased in the totally destroyed camper.

Deputies, detectives, St. Marys Township Fire Department investigators, Auglaize County Coroner and the Ohio State Fire Marshall’s Office are investigating the fire. New Bremen Police also assisted deputies at the scene.

The preliminary investigation indicates there was a gathering of five young adults at the location and Homan was sleeping in the camper. The location doesn’t have an actual residence but a camper and shed on the property.

The investigation continues to determine the cause of the fire.

Homan was a 2014 graduate of New Bremen High School and was a member of the school’s basketball team.

Students at New Bremen High School, many of them former classmates of Homan, are receiving counseling assistance if needed.

“Last week (the first week of school) went really smooth,” said Brian Pohl, New Bremen High School principal. “Now we’re all slowing down, just trying to get through this week.”

Pohl said the school’s counselors are available for any student who needs someone to talk with.

“We haven’t made any plans yet as the details are emerging about the viewing and funeral service. We’re in a holding pattern until we know.”

Pohl said the students, with their parent’s permission, will be able to leave school to attend the visitation or funeral.

“He was a good kid and a hard worker,” said Pohl of Homan. “Right now, it’s hard to look back at the kid that he was. He was very happy and a hard working kid.

“He was involved in sports and activities while he was here,” he said. “He was just trying to figure out his way through life. He was a great kid while he was here. He’s being missed by us.”

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Gilbert-Hartwig Funeral Home in New Bremen.

A Mass of remembrance is planned for Monday, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. at Holy Redeemer Church in New Bremen.