Neighbor: Mom screamed for help in the midst of fire that killed 5 children

Stuffed animals rest against a pole on a makeshift memorial after a fatal fire in Youngstown, Ohio, Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. Authorities are reporting that a number of children died in the fire. (William D. Lewis/The Vindicator via AP)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A desperate mother, naked and bleeding, banged on the door of the house on the other side of the street and screamed for help in a fruitless plea for the rescue of her five children, a late-night fire swallowed their Ohio home, a neighbor said Monday.

Fire officials in Youngstown said the woman jumped from the second floor of the window and it was the only survivor of the Sunday blaze death of the children. They ranged in age from 1 to 9, the youngest of twins.

Neighbor Aaron Baldwin said at the time that he woke to the woman banging on the door of her house was engulfed in flames and there was no way for the neighbors to rush in.

“It was horrible. It was the worst thing to see you,” said Baldwin, 28, who also has five young children. “I see myself in her situation.”

The Mahoning County Coroner’s Office identified the children as 9-year-old Aleysha Rosario, 3-year-old Charles Gunn, a 2-year-old Ly’Asia Gunn, and 1-year-old twins Brianna and Arianna Negron.

District spokeswoman Denise Dick said Aleysha was a fourth-grader in a Youngstown elementary school, where counselors were being made available, and as news spread about the children killing.

Their mother, whom fire investigators do not publicly identify, was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. The hospital said she was in critical condition Monday evening.

The seventeen-year-old Edgar Daniel Negron said it was his aunt, who was in the hospital and his cousins who died.

He said that the fire took place while his aunt was spending rare time with all her children under one roof. She studied nursing, and her children sometimes stayed with relatives or their godparents, but they were all together the night of Sunday to Monday, Negron said.

State and local investigators try to determine what the cause of the fire. She said nothing so far indicates the fire was suspicious.

It swept through the old two-storey wooden house, after neighbors were awakened by a loud boom. The most damage was on the first floor, leading researchers to believe that the fire started, said Captain Kurt Wright of the Youngstown Fire department.

Firefighters found flames throughout the first floor, arrived and were able to pull out three of the children, but she died in a hospital, Wright said.

A firefighter was treated at a hospital and released, and another was treated at the scene.

The family had moved to the house earlier this year, according to the neighbors and friends.

Virgen Bonilla said that they are the children of the babysitter. They visited the charred and boarded-up home Monday with her sister and a friend of the family to leave flowers on a makeshift memorial where stuffed animals were piled up under the balloons.

“These kids were always with me. They were my babies,” Bonilla said, wiping away tears with her scarf as she shared memories — how Aleysha loved to dance, and Charles sang in Spanish, and Ly’Asia was quieter and nice to get out himself.

Neighbor Jerry Fields also stopped outside the house to drop off stuffed animals.

“I had to do something,” said Fields, 68. “I didn’t know what else to do.”

Negron said he organized a GoFundMe campaign to help with the funeral costs. City Councilwoman Linda Davis said that the community plans to have a dinner next week to raise money for the family.


Franko reported from Columbus. Associated Press reporters John Seewer in Toledo, and Lisa Cornwell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

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