‘Quiet neighbor’ dies in Mays Landing apartment fire

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HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – The man who died in an early Sunday morning apartment fire was remembered by a neighbor as a quiet person who kept to himself.

“He came over and said, ‘Hello’ when we moved in back in November,” said Lucy Hauben of Unit 1106 of the Sandpiper Condominiums, 5303 Harding Highway.


Robert Turchi Jr., 44, of Unit 1107 was pronounced dead at the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Mainland Division after firefighters found him unconscious and unresponsive in the rear of his second-floor, smoke-filled apartment.

“We’d see him when he was outside having a cigarette,” said Hauben, who lives across the hallway from the fire scene. “He was always pleasant and kept to himself.”

The fire broke out at 2:30 a.m., said Hauben, who was out for the evening with friends in Williamstown. She received a phone call from her daughter, Lindsay, an Oakcrest High School senior, who had returned home earlier from the senior prom.

“My daughter said there was a fire,” said Hauben, who rushed back to the apartments and joined her daughter in the condominium’s parking lot. “She left our apartment as soon as the alarms went off.”

“There were firefighters, paramedics and police everywhere,” she said. “They were very good. They gave us blankets and they kept us informed while we waited to get back into our apartment.”

Firefighters found smoke seeping from around the door leading to Turchi’s apartment when they arrived on the scene, according to the Hamilton Township police. They broke through the door and found Turchi in the rear of the unit.

He was transported to the hospital by the Township of Hamilton Rescue Squad.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire and limited the damage to Turchi’s apartment.

Two officers were treated and released for smoke inhalation, police said. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Also assisting at the scene were members of the Mays Landing, Cologne and Laureldale fire companies along with AltantiCare paramedics.

Other than damage to Turchi’s unit, little evidence remained on Monday that a fire had occurred. There were soot marks around the doorway to Turchi’s apartment and sooty hand, foot and fire hose prints along the carpet in the hallway.

Turchi was the son of Robert Turchi Sr. and his wife, Marie (Barone). He was predeceased by his twin sister, Dina Marie Turchi. He is survived by two sisters: Michele Turnbull and Pamela Dobo. He was the grandson of Diana Barone.

A visitation is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, May 19 at the Holy Trinity Parish (Blessed Sacrament Campus, 11 N. Kenyon Ave. Margate. A funeral mass will follow at 11 a.m.

Internment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeardon, Pa.

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