Candlelight vigil remembers children killed in fire
The vigil was held alongside County Road 4680 near the site of the fire
- Firefighters from area departments were dispatched around 6:39 p.m. Wednesday to the residence on reports of a structure fire.
- Theodora Hayes, the mother of Mitchual and Hjordis. spoke during the vigil.
- The funeral for the children is scheduled for Thursday.
KIRTLAND — A candlelight vigil held Friday evening for two young children killed in a structure fire two days earlier gave friends and family a chance to help process their grief, and others a way to show their support.
The crowd grew during the vigil, spilling into the eastbound lane of County Road 4860, as family members shared memories.
The sun was setting Friday as friends and family started to park their vehicles alongside that road. They walked toward the entrance of the property where a single-wide trailer was destroyed in the fire Wednesday night that took the lives of Hjordis Sam, 5, and her brother Mitchual Sam, 3.
A memorial with two crosses and stuffed animals, including a Mickey and Minnie Mouse, was at the center of the vigil. Two solar lights helped illuminate the memorial before the attendees lit candles.
Tragedy struck Wednesday night. Firefighters from area departments were dispatched to the residence on reports of a structure fire. When they arrived they found the trailer engulfed in flames and smoke.
The blaze was extinguished and two children were recovered from the trailer, but they were pronounced dead at the scene.
A teenage inlaw of Theodora Hayes, the mother of Mitchual and Hjordis, was treated for minor injuries.
Hayes spoke very briefly during the vigil. She told the crowd she hasn't slept and hasn't eaten as she struggles to process the death of her children.
"I don't know where to start. I'm lost and confused and I'm hurt," Hayes said.
After she spoke, Hayes attached balloons to the fence set up next to the memorial.
Hayes, her mother, Paula Smith, and Lemuel Sam were among those who spoke during the vigil.
They thanked those who showed up for their support and donations to the family.
Deputies for the San Juan County Sheriff's Office arrived on scene and handled traffic control as the crowd swelled to fill the eastbound lane of County Road 4860. Passing vehicles were restricted to one lane.
Smith told the crowd if someone believes in and applies God's words, they will see their children again in the afterlife.
"That's an encouragement for me and for my heart," Smith said.
Lemuel Sam spoke about helping raise the children, and his love for them. He recounted having a video of Mitchual taking his first steps in the trailer destroyed in the fire.
"Every time I watch it, it hurts so much," Lemuel said.
Verna Nez, Lemuel's grandmother, said the family never expected this to happen but that everyone needed to come together as one to help put the babies to rest.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to Michele Truby-Tillen of the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management.
A family member during the vigil said the funeral and interment is scheduled for Thursday.
Toward the end of the vigil, Lemuel Sam asked the crowd to raise their candles in the air as he played a song, "One More Light" by Linkin Park, to honor Mitchual and Hjordis.
As the song blared from a Bluetooth speaker on the ground, Lemuel retrieved his lighter from his pocket, lit it and held in the air.
A Gofundme site has been set up by the family at https://www.gofundme.com/4xhda5s.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.