A family is grieving a tremendous loss after St. Louis mother Sabrina Dunigan lost all five children in an apartment fire last week.
The fire occurred on August 6 in an apartment unit in East St. Louis, reported KMOV. Two children were found dead in a bedroom, and three others were discovered lying on the floor. They were pronounced dead after they were removed from the building.
The deceased included 9-year-old Deontae Davis; 8-year-old twins Heaven and Neveah Dunigan; 4-year-old Jabari Johnson; and Loy-el Dunigan, 2 years old.
“It wasn’t one kid, it wasn’t even two, it was all of them. She lost all her children,” Linda Barton, Sabrina Dunigan’s mother, told KMOV.
Sabrina Dunigan was not home at the time because she was giving someone else a ride to work. The children’s maternal grandparents were in the building when the fire started, but they managed to escape. According to the St. Louis Dispatch, the family had only been in the apartment for five months and lost their previous home to a fire.
East St. Louis Assist. Fire Chief George McClellan said Sabrina Dunigan tried to run into the home to save her children several times but was unsuccessful.
“They are blameless in this. They’re just kids. It’s tough,” McClellan said.
The tragedy has been intensified due to social media commentary that allegedly blamed Sabrina Dunigan for her children’s demise. Her family and friends pushed back and insisted she is a dedicated mother.
“She took care of her kids, she loved her kids, when she didn’t have anything, and she was homeless, she took care of those kids,” the children’s aunt said of Dunigan.
“Everybody has made this mistake once in their life. You know, everyone has left their kids at home. Nobody expected this to happen. She didn’t expect this to happen,” said Pastor Doug Hollis. “ It happened, so we don’t want everybody on Facebook and get on social media and slander her name and try to throw her under the bus. This is an honest mistake. This is a tragedy. She wasn’t planning on coming back and seeing her house on fire.”
The cause of the blaze has not been determined.