Friends react to veteran newspaper reporter's death

Dwight Dana

Dwight Dana's home on Orange Street in Darlington caught fire Sunday morning, killing the 67-year-old Morning News reporter and his son, James Radisson Dana, 27.

Agents with the State Law Enforcment Division are still trying to determine a cause.

Police say Radisson called 911 to report the fire and went inside to save his father.

Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee says both men died of smoke inhalation and he's ruled the manner of death as accidental.

Ed Howard grew up with Dwight Dana and say they had a lot in common. Howard visited Dana's home after the fire.

"A way of saying goodbye to my old friend, Dwight. I've known him all of my life - 40 something years. Had a lot of good times together. It's just sad to come say goodbye to him," said Howard.

Dwight Dana was a veteran newspaper reporter in the Pee Dee.

He's worked at many different papers over the years but most recently the Morning News.

He's covered a variety of stories there since 2001.

"Today is another day. We'll go on and we'll have a another paper and we'll be able to put papers out without Dwight, but there's no way we're going to replace him," said Tucker Mitchell, the paper's regional editor.

Libby Wiersema worked with Dana at the Morning News until she left a few years ago.

She says the two remained very close and she describes Dana as a well respected print journalist.

"He would sit down for an interview and could convey to a person how much he cared about their story in such a convincing way and heartfelt way they felt the sincerity and opened up to him in ways that they would never have opened up to another reporter," Wiersema explained.

She says it doesn't surprise her that Dana's son went in the raging fire to help his father.

"Radisson was a courageous young man. He had a strong, moral fiber and he loved his father. He loved his father."

Wiersema said Dwight friend loved the 110-year-old, Victorian home where he lived since he was a child.

"Pretty sure he was born in that house and I think he slept in the very room where he was born. I believe he told me that story once. I been to the home and it was very apparent just how much family meant to Dwight, the minute you walked through the doors of that home."

Funeral services will be held for Dwight and Radisson Dana on Wednesday, November 28 at 3:00 PM in First Baptist Church in Darlington.

Burial will follow in Grove Hill Cemetery, directed by Belk Funeral Home.