Casey girl, 8, dies in fire

March 08, 2004|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

LIBERTY - An 8-year-old child died and her grandmother and sister were injured early Sunday in a mobile home fire on Dry Creek Road in northwestern Casey County, authorities said.

Carri Leonard, who lived with her grandmother, Vivian Hochstasser, 59, of 9096 Dry Creek Road, Liberty, was unable to escape the flames as they swept through the house at 5:30 a.m., according to a relative.

Hochstasser and Carri's sister, Amber, who was visiting for the weekend, were taken to Casey County Hospital for treatment. Hochstasser suffered burns to her back, arms and face, said her sister-in-law, Mrs. Ed Elsworth, who lives nearby. Amber was treated for smoke inhalation then released from the hospital.

Carri ran the opposite way from her grandmother and sister, according to Elsworth. Amber, 4, crawled to her grandmother and they managed to escape.


Sheriff Jerry Coffman said when he arrived at the fire scene about 6:30 a.m., the mobile home was burned to the ground and an outbuilding was still burning.

"We have no idea how the fire started," said Coffman. The residence was two mobile homes, side-by-side and attached.

Coffman said a vehicle near the house was pulled away after the fire melted a portion of the lights.

Carri's friends at Douglas Elementary School are coping with the loss this morning with the help of teachers and counselors.

Assembly held to honor her memory, talk about what happened

An assembly was held first thing to honor her memory and talk about what happened, said Principal Judy Phillips-Dykes.

"We talked about her, and I told the students that we needed to honor her memory," the principal said. "A moment of silence was held, then Carri's classmates were the first to leave and see the memorial in the hall.

"She was a wonderful student," said Phillips-Dykes. "She was exceptional, kind, courteous and respectful."

Preparations for the assembly were made Sunday after hearing of the tragedy. Phillips-Dykes called all the school personnel, who came to the school to call parents of Carri's second-grade classmates.

"We also collected photos of Carri showing her on special occasions and in school activities and made a collage. We put roses in front of the collage in the hallway as a memorial," said Phillips-Dykes.

She said the memorial appears to have helped the students deal with the death. They can walk by when they want to.

"This was the worst thing I've encountered since I became principal," she said. "The teachers also are upset but some of the little ones still don't understand. However, the sixth graders who teamed up with second-graders to help with reading are taking it pretty hard," said Phillips-Dykes, who has been principal at Douglas for the past three years.

School Counselor Dorman Luttrell and Melissa Cravens, from another school, are there to help. Adanta counselors also have offered to help.

The investigation is continuing by state police Detective Bill Gregory and arson investigator Alex Wesley. Neither was available for comment this morning. Doug Siler, state fire marshal, also is investigating.

Clementsville and Brush Creek volunteer fire departments responded to the scene. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at McKinney-Brown Funeral Home.

Besides her grandmother and sister, Carri is survived by her mother, Tammy Monday of Columbia.

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