Teen Going to Dad's Memorial Service Killed in Father's Day Fire

Stephan Sydney and his mother, Noreen "Michelle" Johnson, traveled from Georgia to Newark, New Jersey, on Father's Day weekend to pay homage to the 15-year-old boy's father, who died in a motorcycle accident two years ago. But instead of attending a church memorial for him, they -- along with four other members of their family -- were killed in a tragic house fire that moved swiftly through their three-story home and spread to the house next door.


The fire reportedly broke out at around 4 a.m. on Sunday morning and destroyed both the home where Stephan and his mom were staying as well as the neighboring residence. But while everyone in the adjacent house managed to get outside to safety, six family members died in the blaze that started at the first house.

The victims included Salome Stewart, 58; her husband Reginald, 58; Salome's sister Natasha Kinsale, 47; Johnson, 43; son Stephen; and Zion Forbes, 11. Police say the house belonged to the Stewarts and Kinsale and the others were visiting.

If this isn't heartbreaking enough, Stephen's grandmother, Iris, reportedly discovered that her grandson and daughter-in-law had died after she waited for them at the church in which her son's memorial was set to take place and realized they weren't coming. She returned to their home and was given the horrific news by a sheriff's deputy standing at the door.

Iris, who says she buried her husband, son, and now her grandson, is obviously inconsolable, and the entire community is dealing with such a tragic loss. Police are still investigating the cause of the fire, but say they don't believe it is suspicious.

It's awful to think this family was probably overjoyed to get to spend time together and celebrate the life of someone they loved, only to have that taken away by chance. Hoping Iris and the many others affected by the loss of these six lives find peace at this time.

Have you ever experienced a fire in your home?


Image via David Pursehouse/Flickr

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