Older Sisters Of 8-Year-Old Fire Victim Remember Their 'Angel'
Thursday, December 18th 2014, 6:28 pm
By: Tess Maune
The family of Lauren Creel -- an 8-year-old girl who died in a fire last week -- is speaking out for the first time.
Lauren's 15-year-old sister jumped from her second story window to survive.
The last thing I told her was, "I love you. Good night,'” Tori Creel said.
They were words sisters always know to be true, but sometimes don't say enough.
“She said, 'Love you too, sister,'” Tori said.
And they are words Tori will cherish for the rest of her life.
“That gave me peace that I'd said that,” she said.12/12/2014 Related Story: Catoosa Community Mourns 8-Year-Old Killed In Overnight House Fire
It hasn't even been a week since Tori woke up to her house on fire.
She couldn't get downstairs, and her 8-year-old sister, Lauren, was asleep in the room next door.
“I yelled for Lauren to come to my room and I didn't hear anything, so I got on the phone with 911,” Tori said. “…I closed my eyes so I could concentrate on telling them where I was, and when I opened my eyes, I couldn't see in front of me.”
Within seconds, Tori said, the smoke was so thick and so hot, she couldn't get to Lauren's room.
So she felt her way to the window. Her only choice was to jump, but she didn't want to, she wanted to save her sister.
“I didn't want to leave Lauren,” she said.
But neighbors were outside encouraging her to trust them.
“I heard them say, 'just jump. I got you.' I was like, 'OK, if they got me, they got me.'”
She survived the fall with only a deep bruise on her foot.12/15/2014 Related Story: Emergency Crews Say They Responded As Fast As Possible To Fatal Catoosa Fire
Her mom, who tried everything she could to get to her daughters, also made it out.
But Lauren couldn't be saved.
“She was never on fire. She did have heat exposure, but she was already passed by the time that heat got to her, so she never felt any pain,” sister Jessica Repschlaeger said.
The pain is now in the hearts of Lauren's sisters -- who don't know what they'll do without their always smiling, always energetic, smart, funny, athletic... Lauren.
“It's gonna be hard,” sister Kelsey Gougler said. “Life is different as we know it.”12/15/2014 Related Story: Young Catoosa Fire Victim To Be Laid To Rest Wednesday
Despite the tragedy, there's hope through the love of family, friends and strangers who have touched their lives in an immeasurable way.
“As we're feeling our pain and this heartache, I know you are, too,” Jessica said. “And as we recover and get stronger, I pray that you do as well.
They said there's comfort knowing that Lauren left her family with something to hold on to.
“We all know that she's still with us, in our hearts and in our souls,” Jessica said. “And we know that she's in heaven. She's an angel.”
The family wanted to specifically to thank the neighbors, firefighters and paramedics and say words can't express how grateful they are for the community's support.
A donation account has been established online and at RCB Bank for the Creel family whose home was destroyed by the fire.