Daniel Jarvis wondered what his purpose for being was. Life was a struggle for the 23-year-old man. But that didn't thwart his kind, giving spirit. He would do anything possible for his fiancee, Dawn Norris, and their 23-month old son, Jake. He would offer help to anyone in need if he could.
On Sept. 2, he saved the lives of two neighbor ladies. When he saw their trailer burning, at 3 a.m., he broke in the door and got them out safely.
"He put his own life at risk to save ours," said Brenda Brock. "He was a hero."
"He was more than a hero to me," Dawn said. "He was my whole world. I met Dan when he was 16 and I was 13. I was abused as a child. When I told, to try to get it stopped, they punished me. I was moved around from foster home to foster home. Some of them was as bad or worse than where I came from. Dan was so good to me. He was the only stable person in my life. He was my soul mate. We could talk about anything."
But Dan had a dark side. He suffered from chronic depression. According to his mother, Evelyn Jarvis, Dan said it seemed like every time he climbed a mountain and made it to the top he'd just slide back down again.
Dan bought a car from a boy down the road. There was nothing in writing. After the car was paid for Dan found out the boy never had a title.
He eventually had to get rid of the car and lost over $2,000 because he couldn't get it titled. He bought an old truck to get around in so he could work. It wasn't dependable, frequently needing repairs, but it was all he could afford.
Like most young men, he was a little heavy on the gas pedal at times. After several tickets the points added up and Dan had his driver's license suspended. But he needed his truck to get any work so he continued to drive.
He was stopped again and got ticketed for driving while suspended. The fines added up. He needed $1,600 to get his license back.
"It seemed like if something went right for Dan," his mother said, "then something else went wrong. He could always find work but had a hard time keeping the jobs because of transportation problems. He was always worried about losing his job and getting his bills paid.
"I'd say, It can't get any worse, honey. You have to be optimistic.
"And Dan would say, 'You always say that, Mom. And I keep trying. But it's hard.'"
"Dan was in a lot of emotional pain," Dawn remembered. "There was so much bad happening in his life that he'd just get overwhelmed. He took an overdose of pills when he was 19."
But Dan tried to get it together for his family. He dearly loved his little son, Jake. Friends and relatives said when he wasn't working, Dan had Jake with him all the time. He'd push him down the road in the stroller or drive him around in the truck where ever he went. Jake was definitely a daddy's boy.
Dan, Dawn and Jake lived in a trailer behind Dan's mom and stepdad, John Jarvis. It looked like things were starting to turn around for them.
"He got a job at Great Dane Trailers in Brazil in July," Dawn said. "Dan was so proud of having that good job. We started making so many plans. We'd been engaged for about five years and we were finally going to get married.
"We found an apartment and Dan was going to get the truck fixed. He was saving up to pay the $1,600 to get his license reinstated."
Dan's mom said introspectively, "Our worst fear was that he'd be stopped by the police and get arrested for driving without a license and they'd tow his truck away. He felt like he had to take the chance to try to get his life back in order. Oh, how I wish they had stopped him." Evelyn Jarvis spoke very softly as she wiped away the tears.
"I'd prayed and prayed," Dawn added with the pain obvious in her voice. "I felt like my prayers had been answered. We were just starting to get our lives together. Maybe I asked for too much."
On Sept. 4, two days after Dan Jarvis had saved the lives of his two neighbor friends, he was fatally injured in a truck accident, when he apparently went to sleep while driving to work at Great Dane.
He veered south off of U.S. 40 in Brazil, just east of Waterworks Road, and hit a ditch embankment. His vehicle was concealed by trees and brush. So the 5 a.m. wreck went undetected for over seven hours even though hundreds of motorists passed by the scene.
Dan was seen about noon by two passing motorists after he'd regained consciousness, pulled himself from the vehicle and was walking toward the highway. When the drivers noticed Dan's face was bloodied, they stopped to see if they could help.
Police and medical assistance were called. Dan told them he thought he was OK. Because of possible head and internal injuries, however, he was lifelined to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Dan died before Dawn and Evelyn could get there.
"I felt like I never got to say good-by," Dawn said, sadly. "But thinking back I guess maybe I did. The night before, we were laying together just talking about things. We talked about all of our plans and about Goldie and Brenda Brock.
Dan felt so good about helping them out of that fire. The next morning, after he'd left for work, I was still laying in bed when I heard his truck pull up. He'd forgot something and came back to get it. The last thing he said to me before he walked out the door was, 'I love you, Dawn.' I said, I love you too, Dan."
Apparently Dan Jarvis's purpose in life had been realized.