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The Brown family moves on from their Merrill tragedy Submitted: 11/16/2017
Phylicia Ashley
Phylicia Ashley
Reporter/Anchor
pashley@wjfw.com

The Brown family moves on from their Merrill tragedy
MERRILL - The Brown family lost everything when David Ostrowksi burned their Merrill home down about two years ago. 

Ostrowski said he wanted someone to feel what it was like to lose everything. He will serve a 19 year prison sentence. 
 
Joe Brown lost everything in the fire including an irreplaceable antique car he spent ten years working on.

 Last year Joe got back to one of his passions for the first time. 
 
"I didn't feel like I deserved it," said Brown.

About two years ago 23- year- old David Ostrowski said he wanted someone to feel what it was like to lose everything.

"The guy that did it didn't even know them. I just didn't understand why," said Brown family friend and general manager of Peterson Sand and Gravel in Merrill Brandon Peterson.

Ostrowski got almost two decades in prison for burning down the Brown's family home in Merrill. 

He snuck in their garage and lit Brown's 1935 Ford Sedan on fire.


 "I think I would have had an easier time if he just stole the car," said Brown.

Brown spent ten years working on the antique. It was burned just a month after he finished.

"Only out a couple hundred miles on then it was gone," said Brown. 

Peterson was one of the many people who stepped in to help the Brown family put the pieces of their life together. 

"We felt we had to step up and help out to," said Peterson.

Peterson and Brown connected years ago over a shared love for their children and their addiction to vintage cars. Peterson demolished the home for the Brown's and stored the remains of Joe's car in his shop. 

"I didn't want to ask people for help after the situation but I had no choice," said Brown. 

Issues with insurance, health and starting from scratch almost held Joe back. 

"After something like this you can't just lay down and quit," said Brown.

Joe finally picked his tools back up and got back to work on what Joe knows best. A 1935 Ford coupe, with one familiar piece; part of the frame from the burned car. 

"Just nice to see he didn't lose that," said Peterson. 

Brown said it's the support from people like Peterson that gave his the strength to restart a passion, he's had since his hot wheels days as a kid. 

"My wife asked me why I'm doing another car I said I can't stop," said Brown.

Joe got the 1935 coup from a dealer in Colorado. 

The car came with some bullet holes but Joe says it just adds character. 

Joe bought a new home in Merrill a year ago and got back a peace of mind and piece of his life back.


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