November 3, 1995 in Nation/World

Mom Couldn’t Save Son In Fire Fire And Smoke Keep Desperate Woman From Finding 4-Year-Old

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:Death

A Spokane Valley child died in a fire Thursday morning while his mother desperately searched for him in their smoke-filled trailer home.

Apparently disoriented from smoke inhalation, she didn’t realize the boy had been sleeping next to her when she awoke, investigators said.

Bradley E. Wilson, 4, died in the bedroom of a trailer at the Trailer Inn’s RV Park, 6021 E. Fourth.

His mother, Monica Wilson, 24, was reported in satisfactory condition Thursday evening at Sacred Heart Medical Center with first- and second-degree burns on her face and back.

Families members, gathered at Sacred Heart, declined to be interviewed.

When Monica Wilson couldn’t stand the smoke and flames anymore, she went outside to plead for help from neighbors who had gathered. She also tried to reach her son from the outside by standing on a lawn chair and reaching toward a window.

“She came screaming to me and asked me to get her little boy out,” sobbed neighbor Nancy Herdrick, holding her hand to her quivering lips. “I couldn’t do it.”

“Ma’am, no one could have gotten him out,” said Spokane Valley Assistant Fire Chief Dave Lobdell.

The fire began about 9:30 a.m. in the 20-foot trailer. Firefighters arrived three minutes after they were called, but said the trailer already was engulfed in flames and smoke. The cause is under investigation.

Monica Wilson “was out here yelling ‘Help me, help me,”’ said neighbor Pat Lindsay. “The smoke was so thick, there’s no way she could have found her way to the boy.”

Wilson told neighbors and firefighters that she and her son were sleeping when the fire began in the living room. When she woke up, the trailer was full of smoke. She ran to the other end of the trailer searching for her son, not remembering that he had been sleeping next to her on the bed. She never got back to the bedroom.

Lobdell said Monica Wilson’s judgment probably was impaired from carbon monoxide, which makes people do “irrational things.”

Wilson moved into the trailer park four months ago with her son.

Although Monica Wilson’s Honda Civic has Colorado license plates, she spent some of her childhood in the Spokane Valley and attended East Valley schools.

Aside from staying in the house too long in her search for her son, Lobdell said Monica Wilson did everything correctly. “Get the kids, get the people, and get out,” he said. “She did everything she possibly could.”

Most important, however, is to ensure a home has working smoke detectors, Lobdell said. Fire investigators are not sure whether the smoke detector in the trailer was working.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 color) Map of area

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: FIRE SAFETY TIPS The U.S. Fire Administration offers the following fire safety tips: Make sure everyone in the family knows at least two ways to escape from bedrooms. Buy a collapsible ladder for upstairs windows. Rehearse escape plans routinely. Go over how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire and crawling low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house. Practice the escape plan with your eyes closed. Familiarize children with the sound of the smoke alarm and make sure they know not to open doors that are hot to the touch. Teach family members to leave the house immediately, and call for help from a neighbor’s. Have a meeting place designated outside. Install smoke detectors on every level of the home. Get children into habit of checking the batteries with parents monthly, and changing them at least annually.

This sidebar appeared with the story: FIRE SAFETY TIPS The U.S. Fire Administration offers the following fire safety tips: Make sure everyone in the family knows at least two ways to escape from bedrooms. Buy a collapsible ladder for upstairs windows. Rehearse escape plans routinely. Go over how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire and crawling low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house. Practice the escape plan with your eyes closed. Familiarize children with the sound of the smoke alarm and make sure they know not to open doors that are hot to the touch. Teach family members to leave the house immediately, and call for help from a neighbor’s. Have a meeting place designated outside. Install smoke detectors on every level of the home. Get children into habit of checking the batteries with parents monthly, and changing them at least annually.

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