Elementary students forced to deal with loss of classmates

Students at school learn of classmates' death, counselors provided
Published: Sep. 12, 2016 at 8:57 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2016 at 9:45 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Two of the six children who died in the house fire attended Cummings Elementary School....
Two of the six children who died in the house fire attended Cummings Elementary School. (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Students, teachers, and parents at Cummings Elementary School are stunned that two classmates died in a house fire Monday morning.

Grief counselors were at the school Monday to help anyone struggling to cope with the tragedy.

The school's principal, Key Coleman, sent the following letter home to parents:

Dear Cummings Parents and Guardians,

It is with a heavy heart I have to inform you several of our students passed away in a house fire overnight.  You may see coverage of this on the news this evening, but out of respect to the family impacted by this horrible loss, we have no more details to share at this time.

This news is devastating to all of us at the school.  Grief counselors were on campus today to help students and staff members cope with this tragedy, and counselors will be made available the rest of the week.  If you feel your child needs support beyond this week, please let me know.

I ask that you keep this family in your thoughts tonight.  We will be sure to pass along any information on other ways you can support the family in the days to come.

Key Coleman
Principal, Cummings K-8

When the final bell rang Monday, Jeff Benson's daughter, who was overcome with emotion, went running into her father's arms.

"I couldn't imagine [what's going through her head] right now, with her just being a kid man. That's crazy. It's going to be OK, baby," Benson said. "This will be my first time to have to explain something like this to my kid. And I don't really know, but I'm going to try my best to try to get it across to her."

Alonzo Ward, 6, and Diamond Jett, 7, died Monday morning when their house caught fire. They, along with eight other family members were trapped inside the home.

Only one of their siblings survived. He's in the hospital in extremely critical condition.

"It's sad. I mean when I heard about it all I thought about was my kids and my family. I mean it's just horrible; it brought me to tears," parent Telia Woods said.

Grieg counselors will be available at Cummings Elementary School for the rest of the week.

Copyright 2016 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.