By MARY RAINWATER
Two young people died Thursday in a Dallas hospital after being rescued from a house fire in Elkhart on Wednesday morning, according to reports from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.
“We received word from the medical examiner that the female victim was in his custody,” Sheriff Greg Taylor reported to the Herald-Press at around 5 p.m. Thursday. “He told us that he was expecting the male sometime this evening.
“They are gone,” he said.
The victims — confirmed by personnel at Parkland Hospital in Dallas to be Shauna VanStory, 19, and Michael Murdock, 13 — were transported to Parkland after being rescued from the residence, located at the corner of Sheridan and Church streets.
Unconfirmed reports of the victims’ death were reported by Elkhart community members and others on social media sites throughout the day Thursday, with Parkland Hospital officials reporting to the media and law enforcement as late as 4 p.m. that the victims’ were listed as “critical.”
“We were told by the medical examiner that they were taken off life support and that they have passed away,” Taylor said early Thursday evening.
A candlelight prayer vigil was held Thursday night in front of the victims’ residence, with attendees asked to bring items of memorial to leave at the site.
“(The family has) lost everything and will need everyone’s prayers and help during this time,” Taylor said.
According to reports, the house was fully engulfed when deputies arrived on the scene at about 10 a.m. Wednesday and there were two children inside the residence.
“Rescuers got them out, did CPR on them and got a pulse, then care-flighted them to Parkland,” the sheriff reported, adding that the parents of the children were not at home at the time, but arrived at the scene later.
“He (the children’s stepfather) tried to go in the house to get them, but firefighters did not allow him in.”
The house appeared to be a total loss, and a preliminary investigation revealed that the fire was likely accidental — starting in the home’s living room.
“There appeared to be no foul play,” Taylor said.
Elkhart, Slocum, Tucker and Southside Volunteer Fire Departments all responded to the scene, with the Palestine Regional Medical Center Ambus also arriving to help.
Friends of the family reported at the prayer rally that a fund would be set up for the family at Elkhart State Bank today. Various fund-raisers also were in the works, including a garage sale and bake sale in downtown Elkhart Saturday.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org