Jeremy Arias Polar Plunge

News-Post reporter Jeremy Arias emerges from the water after doing a cannonball during a Frederick Police Department Polar Plunge in 2018. Arias organized several teams to participate in polar plunges over the years.

Jeremy Arias, the colorful, compassionate, widely respected public safety and courts reporter for The Frederick News-Post who died Monday of a sudden illness at the age of 34, had a unique way of introducing himself to strangers.

Whenever a new reporter stepped into the newsroom at The Frederick News-Post, Arias welcomed them with the cannibal question: Would you eat another human being to stay alive?

It was quite the icebreaker, to be sure. But Arias was more interested in making a memorable first impression and learning how a new colleague would react when a curveball was thrown their way.

When Jeremy Bauer-Wolf began his News-Post career as an education reporter in March 2015, he was promptly challenged to a duel outside the building.

“Nice name. But there is only room for one Jeremy here,” Arias wrote in a rather blunt introductory email.

Bauer-Wolf’s reaction: “Oh my God! Who is this guy?”

Or, during tours of the newsroom, whenever children would pass by his desk, Arias often threw on his Batman mask to try and elicit a smile.

Whatever or however the introduction, people always warmed up to Arias and gained an appreciation, not just for his reporting but how much he truly cared about them.

“Being a little bit tough comes with the cops beat. But Jeremy never lost his compassion,” News-Post publisher Geordie Wilson said. “Truth be told, he was a bit of a softie, and he cared deeply about journalism and the people of this community.”

News of Arias’ sudden passing rocked his family, friends, the News-Post newsroom, former colleagues and many of the subjects that he covered.

At just before 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Frederick County government expressed its condolences on its Facebook page and posted a video of Arias being honored in June of 2017 at the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue graduation ceremony for Recruit Class 21.

Jeremy Smiles while filming

Frederick News-Post reporter Jeremy Arias was all smiles as he attempts to take a video of Trooper 3 helicopter hovering overhead while on a training exercise in 2016.

Arias was embedded with the class over a six-month period and filed weekly reports about life as a fire-fighting recruit that was well-received by the community.

He took part in some of the training exercises and received an authentic firefighter’s helmet as a token of appreciation for his work. Arias displayed it with pride on his desk, where it still remains.

“Jeremy’s passing is a huge loss for the Frederick community,” said Tom Coe, chief of the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services. “He was so interested in getting all of the facts and telling an accurate story. The ease in working with Jeremy was hard to match. You knew he would get the story right.”

When Stu Alcorn was promoted to first lieutenant for the Frederick Police Department, one of the first congratulatory phone calls he received was from Arias.

“He was one of the first reporters I had exchanged my cell phone number with,” Alcorn said. “Over time, you build a professional relationship, and it becomes a personal relationship.”

Arias usually interacted with his subjects at life’s most difficult junctions. It was usually after an arrest, a fire or some other traumatic event.

Jeremy and Puppy

Arias on assignment meeting Frederick City Police’s newest member, Blair, an 11-month-old bloodhound puppy in 2016. Arias loved animals.

Yet, no matter the struggle, Arias found ways to connect and relate to the people he covered.

“It takes a rough exterior and a tough mind to cover Jeremy’s beat,” said Steve Bohnel, Arias’ friend and the News-Post’s county and state government reporter. “I was always impressed with Jeremy’s ability to balance that with compassion and care for the people he covered.”

Paul Milton, the News-Post’s managing editor, added, “For all of the underdogs out there, Jeremy was in their corner.”

Love for his craft

Jeremy Keegan Arias was born on June 30, 1986 at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park. He grew up in nearby Burtonsville and attended Paint Branch High School.

“Growing up, his imagination was phenomenal,” his mother, Patricia, said. “He could play by himself for hours.”

Arias loved Star Wars and comic books and camping trips. His mother would have to yell at him to turn off the light at night. Otherwise, he would be up all night reading books.

“On the SAT, he got every question right on the English and writing portion except for one,” Patricia Arias said. “He was so proud of the fact that he almost got a perfect score.”

Jeremy Arias Fire Academy

Reporter Jeremy Arias records video while covering a firefighter academy training exercise in 2017. Arias worked on a months-long project chronicling Recruit Class 21, writing dispatches on a weekly basis.

Arias’ father, Gabriel, served as a police officer in Howard County for 25 years. On most nights, he would come home with stories that would grab Jeremy’s attention.

“He would learn of people being victimized, and he wanted to find ways to speak for people that couldn’t speak for themselves,” Gabriel said.

During Arias’ childhood, the family made regular trips to Costa Rica. That’s where Gabriel was born prior to immigrating to the United States in 1976. It’s also where Gabriel’s sister, Rocio, lived and worked as a journalist. Rocio’s husband, Eduardo, was the director for one of the big newspapers in Costa Rica.

“[Jeremy] got to pick my sister’s and brother-in-laws’s brains on what it was like to be a journalist,” Gabriel said. “He had very good examples of what it was like to be a successful journalist.”

In high school, Jeremy won a Washington Post writing contest that earned him a $10,000 college scholarship.

He was quickly accepted to the prestigious Phillip Merrill College of Journalism at University of Maryland and, prior to graduating, did a five-month internship in Costa Rica for an online publication, AM Costa Rica.

“He was interested in becoming a foreign correspondent,” Gabriel said. “He would interview people for stories in Spanish and then would write his article in English. He walked a lot or he would take a bus or taxi to get to assignments.”

Upon graduating from college, Arias worked for The Gazette newspaper chain in Montgomery County before moving on to The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

In September of 2014, Arias arrived, full of his trademark bluster, at the Frederick News-Post to take on the cops and courts beat.

Jeremy Arias R2-D2

News-Post reporter Jeremy Arias poses with Star Wars characters R2-D2 and a storm trooper while working on a 2016 story.

“I thought, man, this guy has a ton of energy. How am I going to keep up with him?” said Rob Walters, a former assistant managing editor at the News-Post who now serves as the managing editor at the Bristol Herald Courier on the Virginia-Tennessee border.

“I immediately came to appreciate his wicked and wild sense of humor. For example, in May he sent me a text about working from home amid the pandemic: ‘Unforeseen bonus of extended work from home; if I have to go court and it’s 80 degrees outside I can wear shorts [because] no one is around to enforce the stupid dress code.’”

Sudden Passing

The end of Arias’ life arrived quickly and sooner than anyone could have anticipated.

A bacterial infection in his lungs got into his blood, and his condition rapidly devolved from there. The family said he tested negative for COVID-19.

“We didn’t realize how sick he was until it was too late,” his mother said.

Arias is survived by his parents, his sister, Kimberly, his brother-in-law, Christopher Kitchen, and a large contingent of aunts, uncles and cousins.

“I think people should know he was a very good person,” Gabriel said. “He was very bright, very intelligent, very committed to the causes he took up. He believed in a lot of principles that a lot of people don’t believe in everywhere.

“He cared deeply about his family, people that were suffering. He had a deep sense of justice and wanted to speak up for people who couldn’t speak for themselves ... I think this was his nature. He was a naturally empathetic person who could put himself in place of other people who were in distress.”

Follow Greg Swatek on Twitter: @greg_swatek.

(36) comments

Frankle1

This is very sad. Condolences to his friend, family, and co-workers. He was one of my favorite journalists at the paper.

crc1busdriver

It really is. I moved from Md. to N.M., four years ago, but, read FNP online here. I was shocked. This guy rocked and I knew he was young. I'm so sorry for his family. Such a great loss. I'll miss him and his articles. Rest In Peace, Jeremy. You left a positive impact on many.

threecents

Thank you Mr. Greenspan. Eventually what you say may happen, and maybe all cancer will be cured and the aging process stopped, but what I said is true - that the problem will continue to get worse, as it has continuously for decades. Currently there is no way to stop it, as bacteria continue to devise new ways to avoid, degrade, and eject antibiotics. As I said in a deleted comment, I first read the doom and gloom projections from microbiologists in the 1970s, and they have been born out - despite capitalistic incentives to stop them.

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petersamuel

3c: sorry microbiology doesn't tell you anything useful about innovation. Simple forward projections of past trends of the kind you made always prove wrong. That's because they overlook discontinuities produced by incentives. As long as we have a free economy we'll get unexpected breakthrough innovations. Bacterial resistance to antibiotics will be overcome one way or another. This is my field -- economics -- not yours.

francesca_easa

Sometimes our maker, takes the wrong people away from us too soon. I can't imagine the pain of his family and coworkers. I valued his work and will honor his memory.

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petersamuel

3c: You write: "This problem of antibiotic resistance has been getting worse for decades and will continue to get worse." Such fatalism is unhelpful and unwarranted. Mankind has been fighting diseases for millennia and in recent centuries we've made huge progress. With proper incentives to find new treatments there's no reason why we can't continue to make progress so that terrible deaths like Jeremy Arias' are increasing rare.

yogib

Jeremy's Family needs to know how much better all of us are for having him be part of our daily lives. Our heartfelt condolences to them all

BornToHula2

Huge loss, never met Jeremy but how his compassion and humanity showed in his articles is rare and at least to this reader appeared deeply genuine. So sorry for his family, friends and colleagues.

HappySeller2014

Frederick just lost a really good one. And heaven just picked up a great beat reporter for God's Herald & Post.

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shiftless88

No, we do not "need a better explanation". You have no right to this and it is obnoxious to even ask.

Dwasserba

Devastating. God bless his loved ones.

MysReader2020

Deepest condolences to Jeremy's family, co-workers, and friends. No words--it's just so sad and a huge loss.

olefool

RIP Jeremy. You fought the good fight, now you've gone to carry on with the immortals. Condolences to Family and Friends...

JaMar

My condolences to the family and friends of a fine young journalist taken much too soon.

MRS M

"Compassionate and Just". Simply the highest tribute to honor and capture the life of this vibrant young man. Our deepest sympathy to all who knew and loved Jeremy.

FlagstaffTM

I met Jeremy a few years ago when he interviewed my fiance and I for an article. He was professional, kind, and incredibly personable. I admired his work and the way he went about it and always enjoyed running into him over the years. I went to school for journalism and just don't have the tenacity and passion for it that was clearly evident in how Jeremy covered his beat and interacted with the community. My thoughts are with all those who knew him, especially his friends and family. Frederick lost a good one.

RHOMSalem

I subscribed to his columns and was happy to see his name every morning in my Inbox. How very very sad. Rest in Peace Jeremy.

vodalone

That's very sad, I enjoyed his articles, he seemed like a true professional and a genuine person. RIP Jeremy.

huskycats

I never met Jeremy but always enjoyed his thoughtful and caring articles. He was always thorough and fair in his reporting. FNP you did a beautiful article about him, thank you. My thoughts and prayers to his family along with his FNP family. Rest in peace Jeremy, we'll miss you.

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sevenstones1000

Peter- it is called sepsis. It comes on quickly and many people do not realize it is what they have.its frightening because I personally know several people who have nearly died from this in the past couple of years. The FNP just did an article of a little boy in the community who died of it, not long ago.

sevenstones1000

My very sincerest condolences to this beautiful man’s family and friends.

And side note to FNP, please do an article alerting people to the dangers of sepsis. I am suddenly hearing of so many people getting it, the signs mimic many things such as flu, and it kills quickly. I don’t know if there is more of it around or I’m just hearing of it more. We all need to be aware.

Whatsup

Lovely and deserving article about Jeremy. A true human. He took several beatings from the commentators, and apparently he was able to still stand tall. Respect to the family.

Fredginrickey

How very sad. His reporting was precise, informative and factual, the epitome of journalistic integrity. My condolences to his family and colleagues.

shiftless88

I tend to not look at by-lines but his was one I had noticed. We even exchanged an email or two as he answered questions that I had about stories. My condolences to his family, especially his parents (burying a child is a horrible thing). May he rest in peace.

awteam2000

My condolences to his family and friends.

gabrielshorn2013

Condolences to his family and friends. May they find peace.

TaraS

My sincere condolences to Jeremy's friends and family.

phydeaux994

Only the good die young. R.I.P. Jeremy.

KellyAlzan

Oh my goodness, I'm sorry to hear this.

jwcmac

So sorry. My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at the Post.

Piedmontgardener

So sorry for his family, friends and work friends on all sides of the line. A big loss.

public-redux

Agreed. I met him once and was thoroughly impressed. My condolences to his family and friends.

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