FORT COLLINS, Colo. — It's been nearly a year to the day since a suspected arson killed five people in a house fire in Denver.
Ousman Ba is still coming to grips with what happened. His friend, Djibril Diol, was one of those killed in the fire.
"I can’t believe it’s been a year already because it’s so fresh in my mind," Ba said.
Diol, nicknamed Jibby by family and friends, was killed in a house fire Aug. 5, 2020. Denver police say it was the wrong house targeted by arsonists. His wife, Adja, their 2-year-old daughter, Khadja, Jibby’s sister, Hassan, and her infant daughter, Hawa Baye, also died in the fire.
Jason Proskovec is a project director for Kiewit on the Central 70 project. Diol worked under Proskovec as an engineer on the project after receiving his civil engineering degree from Colorado State University. Diol earned the honor of being one of the university's outstanding graduates.
"He would come to work on Saturdays, on his day off, to go work with another crew to learn a different discipline of work," Proskovec said. "His ultimate goal was to have a great career in the states and then take all of that knowledge back to Senegal."
Diol never got the chance to carry out his goal.
"We really wanted to make sure his legacy lives. We know the man he was in the impact he has on the people around him," Ba said.
Ba, with the help of Kiewit and CSU, established the Djibril “Jibby” Diol Memorial Scholarship, which will go to a civil or environmental engineer at CSU. Kiewit is planning to donate $25,000 so the scholarship will be endowed at CSU forever.
"I think that big smile of Jibby’s would come out. It would mean a lot to him, to have that memory live on for what he stood for, I think would mean a lot," Proskevec said.
For Ba, the idea of the scholarship in his friends name brings a smile to his face.
"That’s my brother, I did it for him," Ba said. "I don’t know what he would say to me, but I just hope I made him proud and I made sure his name is remember forever."
To donate to the scholarship fund click here.