Children who died in Hammond fire mourned at funeral service
BY MICHELLE L. QUINN For Sun-Times Media January 20, 2014 1:16PM
A pamphlet shows father Andre with Alexis, 3 in Hammond on January 20, 2014. | Jim Karczewski\for Sun-Times media
Updated: February 22, 2014 6:18AM
HAMMOND, Ind. — The three children who died in a tragic house fire earlier this month were laid to rest Monday.
A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mask rested by the casket of Jayden Young, 7 months, a temporary gift from his older brother, Isaiah, who survived the blaze that also took the lives of DaSani, 4, and Alexis, 3. The children’s faces beamed in pictures on display at the service, pictures taken during happier times.
During the service at the Burns-Kish Funeral Home in Hammond, the children’s uncle, Kelvin “Dougie” Ingram, said their deaths, while heartbreaking, offered their parents and the rest of the family something of a miracle.
“The story about this family has gone so fast, and it’s challenged so many to love each other and to make more sacrifices,” Ingram said. “These children have found a way to change the world, but it took their lives to do it.”
Fire investigators believe a propane-fueled space heater caused the blaze, which started about 10 p.m. on Jan. 8. The three children suffered burns and died less than two hours after firefighters arrived at the home.
Their father, Andre Young, 27, is credited with rescuing two children: Isaiah Sammon, 6, and his brother, 2-year-old Evjan; the three of them were in the snow outside the home when firefighters arrived.
Before Monday’s hourlong service, Isaiah sat on the lap of his grandmother, Stephanie Pittman, and helped greet people who came to pay their respects at the funeral home.
His mom, Michele Young, had said Saturday afternoon that they’ve tried to explain the tragedy to him in a way he can understand, but he’s not ready.
“He understands about Jayden [the baby], but not about Sani or Lexi,” Michele Young said. “We tell him that they’re in heaven now, and he asks, ‘When we come home, can I go visit them in heaven?’ ”
Isaiah and Evjan are in foster care with family acquaintances while Andre Young recovers from the third-degree burns he suffered trying to rescue the children. Michele Young said he’s still in critical condition, fighting off pneumonia and having recently had a tracheotomy to help him breathe.
Efforts to help get the family back on their feet have recently been the source of some confusion after a fundraising website was shut down.
Pittman had told the Post-Tribune that the website, www.gofundme.com, was bogus because she knew nothing about it. The site has since been shut down.
However, on Saturday, Michele Young said that site was in fact set up by a family friend, Cynthia Montejano, of Calumet City. Montejano had told Michele Young she had done it, but as she kept vigil at the hospital with her husband and children, Young did not think to tell Pittman about the website.
Pittman, meanwhile, had set up a fund at First Midwest Bank to accept donations, and that account is still active; donations to defray the family’s expenses can be made at any First Midwest Bank branch.