A mother and son died Friday morning in a White Hall house fire.
The victims have been identified as 57-year-old Tony Carruth and 83-year-old Billie Carruth, whose home at 902 W. Holland Ave. was completely destroyed by the blaze.
According to a White Hall Police Department report, Officer John Zuber was dispatched to the residence at approximately 7 a.m. Friday in reference to the fire. The report said that “flames and smoke could be seen rising approximately 20 feet above the roof of the house.”
Officers attempted to enter the house but were unable to due the thick, black smoke, the report said.
“I went to the east side of the residence and broke a window and yelled inside,” Zuber wrote in his report. “Heavy black smoke immediately came pouring out of the broken window. I yelled several times inside, but no voices could be heard.”
Paige Crook of White Hall told police she had been Billie Carruth’s caretaker for the past several weeks and that Billie Carruth suffered from dementia. Crook said that last Monday when she entered Billie Carruth’s home, she noticed a pot on the stove that was overheating. She also told police that Billie Carruth often used a space heater in the living room of her home.
The Arkansas State Police Fire Investigation Department is investigating the incident. Both bodies have been sent to the State Crime Lab for autopsies.
According to a 2010 article in the White Hall Journal, Tony Carruth was a renown BMX bike racer. The 2010 article was about his 50th birthday celebration, which attracted “some of the best free-stylers in the nation. (They) came together at Tony’s Radical Sports here on Saturday to take part in the annual Chilidog Ramp Jam. Riders of all ages from Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and even Massachusetts gathered to make the event the largest of its kind in Arkansas.”
The article continued, “Professional ramp builder Ryan Corrigan spent last week giving the existing ramps a make-over. Corrigan has built ramps all over the world for various shows and competitions as well as for X-Games. According to Corrigan, when he was younger, Carruth had been a positive influence on him and lots of other youngsters.
“’Tony was the man with ramps who let everyone ride and supported the scene through darker times,’ said Corrigan. ‘The make-over was just Corrigan’s way of giving back.’
“’We do this every year,’ said Tony Carruth, owner of Tony’s Radical Sports in White Hall. The primary goal of the event was only to have fun while showing off skills with no competition involved.
“Carruth continues to be a positive influence and keeps his passion alive by giving area kids a positive place to go.
“‘Anyone is welcome to test their skills here anytime,’ said Carruth. ‘I think I have just as much fun as the kids do plus I have to stay sharp to keep up with them. I love their energy and their eagerness to learn the sport.’
“ESPN.com was on hand to commemorate the annual event as it also coincided with Carruth’s 50th birthday.”
On social media Friday afternoon, people offered an outpouring of prayers and support for the family.
Beverly Hamilton wrote: “This is so heartbreaking! Tony was a great guy that I’ve known most all of my life. We went to lunch together almost everyday for two years in high school. We ate a lot of Taco Bell together! Tony was so involved with our youth and gave them something to do that was worthwhile. He had a huge heart and truly cared about people. RIP Tony and Ms. Billie. Prayers for his siblings, David, Mark and sister.”
Scott Fisher said that “Tony Carruth was one of the best guys that I ever met. RIP.”