A death in Wilmington

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WILMINGTON >> An engraving of an image of a young woman who died during Tropical Storm Irene overlooks the Deerfield River on South Main Street.

"Our greatest loss remembered," the inscription on the bench with the picture says. "Flood 2011."

Ivana Taseva, 20, was in a work program at Mount Snow at the time. She was from Shtip, Macedonia.

According to Police Chief Joe Szarejko, Taseva was travelling southbound on Route 100 near Twin Valley Elementary School with two other people.

"They came under the floodwaters right around there and attempted to turn around. By then, the waters were so rapidly rising that they couldn't go back the way they came," said Szarejko. "The water quickly enveloped the car."

The two men in the car made it to safety on higher ground. But Taseva was swept away, said Szarejko.

"I don't think about it all the time, but it's a memory like a lot of other bad ones are," he said.

"[Taseva] was washed out of the car by the gas station, and they couldn't get a hold of her so she drowned," said Marcia Dorey, who remembered being stopped at the top of the hill in Searsburg while driving home from Shaftsbury. "They had just put up the sign that said the bridge was out in Wilmington. I said to the policeman, 'I'm not going to cross the bridge.' And he said, 'You know your way around down there?' He said, 'Try it.' I came out over Haystack Road. I live on Ray Hill Road. Then I went and watched the whole [downtown] block wash out. And I watched the water go in the front door of the [Wilmington] Baptist Church and go bursting out the window."

There was no stopping the flood waters, Dorey said.

Szarejko remembered another woman who became stuck in a vehicle with her dog on South Main Street. An officer was able to rescue them.

Some men on top of a roof on Beaver Street were evacuated with police assistance. Officers stopped a man on a kayak attempting to ride down Lyle Hill.

"We had been through a number of floods prior to this, so we all pretty much knew the drill of what to do," Szarejko said. "Of course, we didn't have one of this magnitude before, so it was different. But we had incidents in the past where we had to deploy officers to different parts of town. It just never got to the point where it flooded the town like this did, so rapidly and so severe."

Taseva's brother Dejan, who was 10 years older, told Vermont Today magazine that Tasev was "the bond that was holding our family close together. She was the most loving person in our family."

"We are not coping with our loss," Dejan said at the time of her death. "We are only trying."

Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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