Remembering NyamiahPublished 11:55pm Tuesday, June 25, 2013
While others celebrated the July Fourth holiday last year, the family of 10-year-old Nyamiah Shaliese Weeks was mourning her loss after she was killed in a house fire just after midnight on Beck Street.
Almost one year later, Nyamiah’s mother, LaToya McMurray, is working to make sure her daughter’s death was not in vain through a memorial service she hopes will help fund fire prevention education.
“As long as she’s in our memory and our hearts, she’s still alive,” LaToya said. “It’s coming up on a year since her death and I just thought that this would touch a lot of people in the community.”
Nyamiah’s death occurred while living with her grandmother, Jackie McMurray, while her mother was away in New Jersey, one month pregnant with her second child.
LaToya said Nyamiah loved to cook and had been asking her grandmother if she could make something after returning home from a family cookout.
“I spoke with them the night of the fire,” LaToya said. “She loved to cook and we think she tried to make something after everyone went to sleep and then she fell asleep on the couch.”
LaToya said Nyamiah, who had battled bronchitis her entire life, was likely killed when the house filled with smoke. Her mother barely escaped the blaze after searching for her granddaughter. Four Atmore firefighters and one police officer were injured during the rescue.
A year later, LaToya, who now has a four-month-old daughter, said she knows what she needs to do to help others avoid such a tragedy.
“I want to be able to go around and talk to kids about fire prevention,” she said. “I’d like to organize something with the local fire department and help introduce kids to firemen.”
LaToya said she hopes the memorial for her daughter will help that dream become a reality.
“I never knew what I wanted to do until this happened,” she said. “I’m putting together a program, but I need help from the community and for people to participate. I really want to raise awareness.”
LaToya said the memorial for her daughter will be held Saturday, July 13 from 4 until 7 p.m. at Tom Byrne Park and will include refreshments and activities. She said donation buckets will be available and memorial t-shirts will be for sale for $10 to $12 with all proceeds going towards fire prevention education programs.
For more information or to order a shirt or make a donation, LaToya can be reached at (251) 321-0213.