TONAWANDA, N.Y. - "Anytime there's a fatality, you have to remember the layers of people that are impacted by it," said Tonawanda Police Captain Nick Bado, reflecting on a fire which claimed a life at 116 Sunset Terrace late Thursday night.
According to neighbors, the ranch style home, which by Friday morning was boarded up, was already fully aflame by the time firefighters arrived just before 11 p.m. Thursday. An investigation into the cause of teh fire is continuing.
Though police aren’t saying much, neighbors identify the victim as Seth Creenan, 8, a third grader at nearby Glendale Elementary School.
“This little boy was exceptional,” said a grieving Tracy Reeves, who with her husband Christopher and their and children, live a few doors away from the fire scene.
The Reeves told WGRZ they sheltered the family from the burned out home for much of Thursday night in early Friday morning until the Red Cross was able to assist.
“We had them here all evening, and we did our best to try and help and console them,” Reeves said.
According to Reeves, two other children, 15-year-old Kristina, who is a student at Sweet Home High School, and her 11-year-old brother Andrew were able to escape the fire which claimed Seth’s life.
He was Our Son’s Best Friend
“Seth was just such a loving and kind hearted child,” recalled Reeves, who said he was particularly close with her 8-year-old son, Mason, who attended school with Seth at Glendale.
“The first thing Mason would say every day was, ‘I’m gonna go get Seth, I want to play with him’. Seth taught my son how to ride a bike, and Mason taught Seth how to swim, he came down here all the time, we took him in as our own, he'd play with our kids all the time, he ate here, he slept here," said Reeves, as she tried to compose herself.
Her husband’s eyes, welled and red, were indicative of the grief the couple felt over the loss of a boy they considered as another son.
“It’s very difficult,” said Chris. “He was out son’s best friend. Seth was like a part of our family.”
Explaining the Unexplainable
Of course, the couple had to explain to their son what had happened.
“That was a tough part,” said Mrs. Reeves.
But they had to, as parents must, find the words to describe to their boy a tragedy which in many ways is beyond words.
“He wanted to know what all the police and firemen were doing down the street, I told him there was an accident. When he asked where, I told him it was at Seth’s house.”
Drawing a heavy breath, Mrs. Reeves continued.
“I explained that Seth’s house started on fire. He asked if Seth got out. I said that he was sleeping and that no, he did not get out. He asked why they couldn’t save him.”
Dealing with a Tragedy
There are no doubt other children in the Sweet Home School District who will have similar questions, and according to the district they are making grief counselors available, not only for students but for staff as well.
“It is such a tragedy. Seth deserves for everyone to know what a good kid he was, what an amazing child he was,” said Chris Reeves. “He was just so good, so respectful, and so well mannered.”
And now, so terribly missed.