Overwhelming grief, as well as tremendous need, remain following an explosive Goodfield fire that claimed the lives of two adults and three little children on the evening of April 6.
On Wednesday, April 17, a celebration of life will be held for all five victims at the Goodfield Apostolic Christian Church Fellowship Hall at 217 Robinson St. from 4-6 p.m. Services will follow.
Remembered will be Army veteran Jason Wall, 34, father of Daemeon Wall, 2 years, 11 months, and Ariel Wall, 1 year, 10 months, both of whom also perished. The lives of the children’s great-grandmother, Kathryn Murray, 69, and their cousin, Rose Alwood, 2, also will be celebrated.
Jason Wall’s fiancée, and the mother of his children, Katrina Alwood, was rescued from the fire, along with her son Kyle, 9. Both were transported to OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria where they were treated, then later released.
The fire, which was reported to the Eureka-Goodfield Fire District at 11:10 p.m. that night, was described by witnesses as “like a bomb exploding.” Just minutes before midnight, Woodford County Coroner Tim Ruestman pronounced the victims dead at the scene and later determined the cause of death was smoke inhalation.
Understandably, family members have been difficult to reach, but, on April 8, Rose Alwood’s great-grandfather wrote a heart-wrenching post to his Facebook page, in part, explaining how Katrina and Kyle escaped the blaze.
“My oldest grandson, who turned 27 today, called me yesterday with the terrible news that his firstborn had died in a fire about 11:00 Saturday night that claimed five lives,” John Sweazy said. “My first thoughts were and are about Rose, who I will never hold again, but in my grief, I realize there is another story that should be told.”
Sweazy then said that Jason, a 10-year veteran with two war zone tours, saved Katrina and Kyle, then returned to the inferno in hopes of saving the others, with no thought of self-preservation.
“We use the term hero so much in this country that it has almost lost its true meaning of hero … a hero will risk everything in service of others,” he continued. “This is a hero and had he saved those children, I would owe him a debt of gratitude for the rest of my life. Instead, I owe him a far greater debt than I can ever repay.”
To describe the tragedy as a total loss for the survivors would be minimizing the hardship. Aside from the loss of life, Katrina and Kyle lost their home and almost everything they own. Yet, no one from the family has openly reached out for help.
Instead, officials close to the case have given a nod to the fact that the greatest need right now is financial. First, are the costs of providing dignified funeral services for the five victims. Then, there is the need for Katrina and Kyle, who sources say are living with relatives, to find another home.
A benevolent Woodford County organization has offered the family all that they need regarding toys, clothing, shoes, food, furniture and sundry other needs. A representative of that organization asked that they remain anonymous.
The representative said they, and the administrators at Kyle’s grade school, have fielded many calls with offers of assistance from donors also requesting anonymity.
Monetary donations are being accepted at all three branches of Goodfield State Bank; Goodfield, Eureka and Metamora. A GoFundMe page has also been set up by concerned Eureka resident Jeremy Aguirre and may be found under “Goodfield Family Mobile Home Fire”.
Tributes to Kathryn, Jason, Daemeon, Ariel and Rose may be found at the Argo-Ruestman-Harris Funeral Home website, where visitors may share memories, send flowers, offer condolences and read about each of their lives. That website may be found at www.argoruestmanharris.com.