Wichita detective deals with 3 tragedies on same day

Published On: Apr 01 2014 06:05:16 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 02 2014 08:35:49 AM CDT
DERBY, Kan. -

Investigators say a lawn mower started the fire that destroyed two Derby homes Monday. But one of the families that lost everything says they saved what is most important.

"A house is just a house, but a home is where the family's at and where the love's at. That's how we're going to live," said Wichita Police Detective Dwain Diehl.

Kansas wind spread the violent flames from one house to another, while Diehl's daughter was inside. "She called me screaming, saying our house was on fire. I couldn't understand what she was saying."

Their neighbor's house caught first and it was not long before both were burning. Diehl's daughter was in the basement with headphones on, but thought she heard something strange. "She walked up the stairs and that's when she saw that the dinning room, the windows were broken out and flames were coming in there."

A Derby police officer helped the Wichita detective's daughter escape before everything inside was destroyed. "Some of them were special memories, but we still have the memories and I'm just so thankful it wasn't any worse than it was," said Diehl's wife Karen Wilson-Diehl.

When Diehl got the call about his house he was out of town planning his father's funeral. Diehl's dad died Friday and his funeral was Tuesday.

"My dad accepted Jesus Christ while he was in the hospital, so when he passed I know where he went. The peace of mind there is beyond words," said Diehl.

Diehl believes his father joined his other daughter up there. She died 12 years ago on the very same day. "The parallel of the dates is very hard to think about," said Wilson-Diehl.

"The fact that we could've lost chelsea on the same day, but knowing that God had his hand on her is the most important thing to us."

Diehl's daughter died from a seizure disorder at 18 months old. Firefighters were able to save flowers the family kept from her funeral. The ribbon was burned, but the flowers were preserved in glass.

Diehl says he knows faith will carry his family forward. "When things are going well with your relationship with God, that's when the devil attacks you more," said Diehl. "My attitude is, you know what devil? You're not going to get me. You can't conquer me because God has me covered every which way."

A fund has been setup in Dwain Diehl's name by the City of Wichita. To donate, contact Wichita Federal Credit Union.