Funerals held for 4 children killed in day care fire

Shevona Overton, seated, gets a hug from her aunt Jennifer Overton during a news conference, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, at Second Baptist Church, on E. 26th Street, in Erie, Pa. Shevona Overton lost her four children in a fatal fire a day earlier at a home child care center in Erie. A fifth child also died and at least two others were injured in the fire. (Christopher Millette/Erie Times-News via AP)
Shevona Overton, seated, gets a hug from her aunt Jennifer Overton during a news conference, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, at Second Baptist Church, on E. 26th Street, in Erie, Pa. Shevona Overton lost her four children in a fatal fire a day earlier at a home child care center in Erie. A fifth child also died and at least two others were injured in the fire. (AP/Christopher Millette)
Erie Bureau of Police Det. Dave Walker, left, and Matthew Regentin, center, a fire investigator with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, based in Pittsburgh, are shown Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, with a box of evidence taken from the scene of a fatal fire at a home child care center on W. 11th Street in Erie, Pa. Investigators spent several hours at the site, where five children died and at least two others were injured in the fire the day before. (Christopher Millette/Erie Times-News via AP)
Erie Bureau of Police Det. Dave Walker, left, and Matthew Regentin, center, a fire investigator with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, based in Pittsburgh, are shown Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, with a box of evidence taken from the scene of a fatal fire at a home child care center on W. 11th Street in Erie, Pa. Investigators spent several hours at the site, where five children died and at least two others were injured in the fire the day before. (AP/Christopher Millette)
Karina Facchiano, center, is comforted by a friend during a vigil outside a residence, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, in Erie, Pa. The vigil was in remembrance of five children who died Aug. 11 at a fire at the residence, which served as a daycare facility. One of the children that died was Dalvin Pacley, 2, Facchiano's son. (Jack Hanrahan/Erie Times-News via AP)
Karina Facchiano, center, is comforted by a friend during a vigil outside a residence, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, in Erie, Pa. The vigil was in remembrance of five children who died Aug. 11 at a fire at the residence, which served as a daycare facility. One of the children that died was Dalvin Pacley, 2, Facchiano’s son. (AP/Jack Hanrahan)
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Shevona Overton, seated, gets a hug from her aunt Jennifer Overton during a news conference, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, at Second Baptist Church, on E. 26th Street, in Erie, Pa. Shevona Overton lost her four children in a fatal fire a day earlier at a home child care center in Erie. A fifth child also died and at least two others were injured in the fire. (Christopher Millette/Erie Times-News via AP)
Erie Bureau of Police Det. Dave Walker, left, and Matthew Regentin, center, a fire investigator with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, based in Pittsburgh, are shown Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, with a box of evidence taken from the scene of a fatal fire at a home child care center on W. 11th Street in Erie, Pa. Investigators spent several hours at the site, where five children died and at least two others were injured in the fire the day before. (Christopher Millette/Erie Times-News via AP)
Karina Facchiano, center, is comforted by a friend during a vigil outside a residence, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, in Erie, Pa. The vigil was in remembrance of five children who died Aug. 11 at a fire at the residence, which served as a daycare facility. One of the children that died was Dalvin Pacley, 2, Facchiano's son. (Jack Hanrahan/Erie Times-News via AP)

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — Residents of a Pennsylvania city gathered to mourn and remember four of the five children who died when fire swept through a home child care center.

A funeral service was held Saturday in Erie for 8-year-old La’Myhia Jones, 6-year-old Luther Jones Jr., 4-year-old Ava Jones and 9-month-old Jaydan Augustyniak. All are siblings. The funeral for 2-year-old Dalvin Pacley will be held Monday.

Three of the victims were the children of a volunteer firefighter, Luther Jones. Their mother, Shevona Overton, is also the mother of Jaydan. An adult and two adolescent boys were able to escape. Fire officials suspect last Sunday’s blaze was accidental and possibly electrical.

“There are things that happen in this life that take years to understand. There are things that happen in this life that we will never understand,” said Mayor Joe Schember. “Why are bright, beautiful children taken away from us in a tragic accident in the middle of the night?”

The most important lesson from such a tragedy, Schember said, “is to really value and treasure the relatives and friends that are still with us.” And, he said, “only a strong belief in God can help us humans through a loss like this.”

The Rev. Charles Mock of Community Baptist Church drew an ovation as he urged the community that had come together “Don’t stop now.”

“Don’t stop the kisses, don’t stop the hugs, don’t stop the warm embraces, don’t stop the coming together, don’t stop the partnerships that have come out of five children who have gone into heaven,” he said.

The Rev. Lamont Higginbottom Sr. of Second Baptist Church said children are born “without the sting of hate in their heart” and their loss “seems to rob the community of speech.”

Drawing from the biblical story of Job, he said “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” … but “blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Relatives of the victims, he said, “only entrusted you with the shell of these kids, because the soul of these kids belongs to Almighty God.”

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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