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Young Fire Victims Fondly Remembered
The youngest victims of last night's fatal fire were 14- and 16-year-old brothers. The oldest of the four killed was 63. All are believed to be members of the same family.
The Sangamon County Coroner identified two of the victims as 14- and 16-year-old brothers Deonte and Donald Lewis. Their aunt tells us they were typical teenagers. Donald was learning to drive. Deonte was just starting to notice girls.
The boys were students at Lanphier. Deonte was a freshman, and Donald was a junior. Their aunt said they lived in the house on North Ninth Street with their dad (who was at work during the fire), their grandparents, and an elderly cousin.
At the scene of the fire, while trying to get a grip of their new reality, the family shared photos of the two youngest victims, and memories from their short but full lives.
"They used to play basketball," aunt Tamika White said. "They both loved basketball so much. They wrestled. They were on the football team. Deonte, he was a ninth-grader. They were just little boys. Just little boys."
White's father, 63-year-old Victor Hudson, was also killed in the fire, along with her 55-year-old cousin, Douglas Oaddams. Her mother, the boys' grandmother, is the only survivor of the fire.
At around 3:00 this afternoon, relatives told us the survivor is now in stable condition. But the family is holding off talks on funeral arrangements for the other victims until she has some time to better recover.
White isn't sure if the family had life insurance. Relatives are in the process of setting up a bank account for donations to help pay for the funeral costs.