‘Newest little angel.’ Family remembers Redding 6th grader killed in house fire

Brien died after a fire tore through the family’s home on Diamond Hill Road Tuesday night.

Marissa Alter

Feb 17, 2023, 10:55 PM

Updated 467 days ago


Justin Driscoll last saw his niece’s son, 11-year-old Brien Karlson, Sunday when the family came over to watch the Super Bowl.
“He was a Boy Scout, and we were talking about his rank progressions,” Driscoll recalled. He told News 12 Brien was one rank requirement away from completing Tenderfoot and Second Class.
Brien died after a fire tore through the family’s home on Diamond Hill Road Tuesday night. Brien, his parents and his 9-year-old sister were asleep at the time. Their two dogs were also inside.
“The pets didn't make it. From what I understand they may have run up the stairs to wake up the mom and dad,” Driscoll explained.
Brien went to the hospital but did not survive his injuries.
“It's just horrific. Period,” Driscoll said.
On Friday, he got his first look at the burned-out shell that remains on the property.
“It's not the structure that's the issue. It's what happened to the young boy inside. You know, things can be replaced. Little boys can't,” he said.
Brien was a sixth grader at John Read Middle School, known for his love of the outdoors and animals.
“He just loved this place,” Driscoll said gesturing to the property. “You know, frogging in the pond over there. Wandering around the streams that run around the property. This was a great place to be a little boy, to hang out in the woods, and his mom and dad totally encouraged that.”
Driscoll said his family is leaning on their faith and a wide network of relatives and friends to get through this unimaginable nightmare. Brien's parents grew up in Westport and Wilton and have a large support system in the area.
“It’s just amazing to me how people have rallied around them,” Driscoll told News 12. “We're all going to chip in, help them, as best we can—help them have a roof over their head, help them go day to day.”
A GoFundMe effort for the family has already topped $180,000.
“We’re praying for them, and you know, praying for the newest little angel up there,” Driscoll said.
The cause of the fire remains unknown. News 12 reached out to the Redding fire marshal and the state fire marshal, who is assisting with the investigation, but did not receive a response.
Brien’s parents released the following statement:
“Born to Tara Nan (Driscoll) Karlson and Scott James Karlson on April 11, 2011, young Brien brought immeasurable joy and laughter to his parents, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and teammates with his quick wit, easy laugh, and tireless sense of adventure.
A young but avid outdoorsman, Brien could often be found searching the stream behind his home for frogs, trolling the water with his minnow trap, or carefully pacing the tidal flats of Nantucket with a 5 gallon bucket searching for his precious sea creatures.
Brien’s pure, compassionate heart was clear in his every action, as was his love for all of God’s creatures. When a recent adventure ended with a snake bite to his bare foot, Brien emerged muddy and smiling as he noted how sorry he was to wake the sleeping reptile.
A member of Redding Boy Scout Troop 15, Brien put his expert knowledge of nature to work during the troop’s many overnights and other good works.
Information about upcoming services to celebrate Brien’s life and the joy he brought all those who knew him will be shared shortly.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly asks for donations to be made in Brien’s honor to Redding Boy Scout Troop 15 and Cub Scout Pack 118.”

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