By MARY RAINWATER
The cause of a house fire that killed two young people in Elkhart last week was ruled accidental by state and county fire marshals, according to reports from the Anderson County Sheriff’s office.
“The state fire marshal came in and did a walk through with our local fire investigator,” Sheriff Greg Taylor said Monday. “The source of the fire has been deemed ‘undetermined,’ with the official cause being ‘accidental.’
“More than likely, the fire was a result of faulty wiring as there was some evidence of that found in the home,” he added. “There was one smoke detector found, but it did not have batteries.”
The sheriff also reported that the official cause of death of the victims, 19-year-old Shauna Vanstory and 13-year-old Michael Murdock II, was identified by the medical examiner to be smoke inhalation.
The victims died Thursday at Parkland Hospital in Dallas after being transported there from the site of the fire at a residence located at the corner of Sheridan and Church streets in Elkhart at about 10 a.m. June 26.
“Rescuers got them out, did CPR on them and got a pulse, then care-flighted them to Parkland,” the sheriff reported previously, adding that the parents of the children, Lianne Vanstory Reed and (stepfather) Walter Reed II, were not at home at the time, but arrived at the scene later.
In light of the tragic loss of two lives, Taylor reminds the public of the importance of having and maintaining smoke detectors in one’s home.
“Please make sure you have smoke detectors and that they are working properly,” he said.
A candlelight prayer vigil was held Thursday night in front of the victims’ residence, with friends of the family reporting that a fund would be set up for the family at Elkhart State Bank.
Various fund-raisers also have been planned to help the family.
A joint funeral service for the victims will take place at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Evangelistic Temple in Palestine. Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight at Bailey & Foster Funeral Home in Palestine.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org