One Brooklyn family is living an endless nightmare after a fire destroyed their home and ripped a child from their lives, and through it all, they are trying to find the funds to pay for the funeral.
A deeply emotional prayer vigil was held on Sunday night Jan. 15 outside the family home on 759 Howard Ave, where a raging three-alarm blaze tore through residence, killing 9-year-old Payton Aniya Thompson after she became trapped in the attic. The young girl’s relatives remembered her as a vibrant, intelligent, young fashionista who adored her family and was adored by them.
“Our lives have been changed forever; our hearts have been broken. There is a void there that is absolutely irreplaceable, but we thank you for showing up on such short notice—thank you for helping our family navigate day two of our new norm,” the girl’s uncle, 36-year-old Joseph Thompson, told a crowd of bereaved family, friends, and neighbors.
Mourners placed stuffed bears, roses, candles, and balloons in her honor in front of the charred residence that now remains unlivable. The gathered crowd attempted to fight back tears as the family broke down. The girl tragically lost her life on her baby sister’s birthday.
Aniya Thompson’s mother, Regina Thompson, admitted that she is struggling to carry on without her precious daughter.
“I don’t know how I’ll get through this but for right now I am not okay. It will take me a while to be okay. I can’t believe that on the day her baby sister turned one, she passed away,” Regina Thompson wept.
If the loss wasn’t devastating enough, the family also created a GoFundMe account in order to help pay for the child’s funeral service.
According to FDNY sources, the young girl was killed after she was overcome with toxic smoke.
Veteran Firefighter Ed Dailey of Rescue Company 2 attempted to save Aniya Thompson by crawling through dense smoke inside the attic bedroom before handing the unconscious girl to fellow Firefighter Kevin Hamilton, who then carried the 9-year-old over his shoulder to awaiting paramedics.
EMS strove to perform life-saving measures as she was whisked to Brookdale Medical Center, but their valiant efforts were to no avail; she was tragically pronounced dead at the hospital.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.