The deadly fire that burst through a camper Feb. 8 in Sterling shattered the young family that was living there, its survivors scattered in hospitals from Florida to Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, memorial services for 2-year-old Blayden Wade Carter and 4-month-old Tallie Delane Carter will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Edo Miller and Sons Funeral Home, 3321 U.S. Highway 17 in Brunswick. The surviving child, 18-month-old Brighton Micheal Reeves, is badly burned and now being treated at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Boston, where father Michael Reeves stays at his son’s side. The mother, Chassity Carter, remains in an induced coma at UF Health Shands Burn Center in Gainesville, said Kara Jansen, a friend of the family.
Already struggling, what remains of the family has been left destitute by the fire, she said. Jansen is managing a GoFundMe site to help with burial expenses for Blayden and Tallie, as well as to possibly offset mounting medical bills. Those interested can donate at GoFundMe.com under “Mike & Chassity’s Emergency Fund.”
“They have lost everything,” Jansen said. “We’re just trying to pay the funeral expenses and anything after that will hopefully go toward some of the medical bills. But there’s going to be a lot of expenses for them.”
Neighbors reported hearing an explosion from the camper at 121 Holly St. Circle shortly after the fire was reported at 12:39 p.m., Glynn County Fire Department Chief R.K. Jordan said. The fifth-wheel camper was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived three minutes later. State Fire Marshals determined Feb. 9 that a hotplate left on a counter inside the camper caused the fire.
However, Glynn County Police hazardous materials investigators continue to look into the fire, Police Chief Matt Doering said Thursday.
Blayden died at the scene; Tallie died the next day at UF Shands Health Hospital in Jacksonville. Michael Reeves, 23, was treated and released from Southeast Georgia Health System’s Brunswick hospital. Carter and Brighton both were flown to the burn center in Gainesville. Brighton was recently transferred to Shriner’s in Boston. Reeves has gone there to be with him.
Brighton has had skin graft surgeries and remains on a ventilator, Jansen said.
“Michael is up there in Boston with the clothes on his back, and that is all he has,” Jansen said.
The family had been living in a larger, single-wide mobile home on the property, located at the corner of Holly Street Circle and Greenswamp Road. But a fire there in May of 2016 made the structure unlivable, and the family moved into the smaller camper.
Up until the fire, Michael worked in construction as a framer, said his sister, Rosamond Melo. Chassity stayed home with the children. Neighbors told an Associated Press reporter last week that the family “struggled and struggled.” Some took care packages of children’s clothing and groceries to the family, according to the Associated Press report.
“He was working,” Melo said of her younger brother, struggling with grief. “They struggled, but everybody struggles.”
Those wishing to help the family also can make donations at Saturday’s 11 a.m. memorial service for Blayden and Tallie. Jansen said there is one other thing folks can do for the family.
“They have absolutely nothing now, except that there are three of them still surviving,” she said. “And they are going to have a long road ahead of them. Prayers for the family would be much appreciated also.”