Monday, March 1, 2010

A Big Loss for Bristol, A Huge Loss for His Family

The man in the picture is Jeff Dziob. I never met him, but I've spent the past week talking to people who loved him and now I wish I had known him, too.
Jeff is the Bristol man who was killed when a truck smashed through his garage last December, the innocent victim of a terrible crash. Given what the driver supposedly told police afterward, I have a hard time calling it an accident in the truest sense of the word.
Frances Ableski, the unlicensed driver of the unregistered pickup truck, is charged with a lot of offenses, including manslaughter and driving drunk. She apparently wanted to kill herself and aimed at a tree but missed and hit Jeff's garage instead. I doubt she thought she would harm anyone else when she gunned the accelerator, but that makes it reckless at best, not accidental.
I wasn't covering the crash, though, or her criminal case. I was writing about Jeff.
I had the bittersweet experience of learning about a great family man, a hardworking homeowner and a wonderful friend and co-worker who died too young, leaving a couple of sweet children who will grow up without the benefit of his guidance and a wife who lost her lifelong companion.
Jeff was a smart man by all accounts, and he clearly was using his head and his heart when he married his wife Melissa, who took the time to talk with me about her beloved husband.
It isn't easy to be a reporter who makes the call to the grieving family or friend to ask about the one they lost. Lots of times, people are understandably too pained to be able to talk and sometimes they're angry. It can be uncomfortable at best, but sometimes it is part of my job, and I understand when people don't want to talk with me.
This wasn't one of those times.
Jeff's wife and friends couldn't have been more generous with their memories and they couldn't have been kinder to me. They really wanted to share stories and tell about the funny, romantic and all-around good guy they knew and loved.
When I write stories like this, I feel honored to be able to tell that story. I believe it is important for the community to recognize what it lost when Jeff Dziob was killed. To be sure, the greatest loss was to his family, and then to his friends, but the community as a whole loses when a family is ripped apart, when children are left fatherless, when a decent, hardworking and productive citizen is taken before his time.
These stories always take an emotional toll. I hate the senseless loss of life, and as a wife and mother, I can only imagine the pain Melissa and their two young children are enduring.
My story about Jeff is very long, but I hope it will be meaningful to some readers, and to the many who knew and loved him.
It is slated to run in Tuesday's edition of The Bristol Press (
If you didn't see the story, it might be hard to find now. Here's the link:


  1. As a close friend of the Dziob family, I would like to thank Jackie for the beautful writing she has done. I appreciate the time she took to write about Jeff. He is worth every word!

  2. Thank you for writing that wonderful piece about Jeff Dziob. I have had the amazing luxury of working closely with Melissa Dziob at Countryside Manor of Bristol, as I am the Admissions Director. Oddly enough, being friends with Melissa and Jeff lead me to my boyfriend Brian Macsalo, the brother of Cory who was quoted in your article. Jeff and Missy's marrigae is one that I will always admire and look up to. The love that they had for one another was something anyone who was around them felt in their hearts. Missy is a true fixture here at Countryside, and we could not imagine a more perfect woman to be our Director of Nurses. She had the perfect partner and article you wrote is a good reminder to everyone to think twice. Drunk driving is reckless and the fate of Jeff's life rested in the hands of someone who didn't think things through. I appreciate your dedication to making the article as special as it turned out, as Jeff deserved every last word. Thank you! Diana

  3. Jackie....Words are not powerful enough to extend my gratitude to your beautifully written article on my husband. This is a tribute to Jeff that my children and I will cherish forever.