Dead baby’s family recalls tragic fire
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: May 18, 2013
Sandra Mae Cooper sat outside the charred remains of an apartment building in the Grove yesterday, holding a picture of her youngest grandchild.
“We called her Mimi,” she said.
The five-month old, whose real name was Santia Cooper, died in a fire on Mother’s Day.
Cooper said Sunday started off as a normal day for the family.
She said she woke up early and went to church for the Mother’s Day service.
When she got back home, she made lunch for the family and played with the baby for a while.
“They carried Mimi upstairs and laid her on the bed,” she said.
“When she falls asleep, we always put the fan right there to the room to keep her cool.”
She said the baby’s mother, Satanya, and a few other family members sat outside the building talking.
“So we were talking and somebody came and said ‘I smell smoke’,” she said.
“So everybody started running up the stairs at the same time and then a guy came from the back of the building saying ‘Sandra, Sandra, smoke coming out from the bedroom’.
“Well after that the mother dashed to the apartment.
“When she reached to the door, the smoke and the fire met her to the door.
“So I said ‘let me give it a try’ and the same thing that happened to her, the smoke and the flame, met me to the door.
“Everybody who was trying, that was the problem.
“After [Satanya] saw that, she ran down the stairs straight across the road crying.”
Superintendent Walter Evans, director of fire services, said the baby’s uncle made a heroic and courageous attempt to save Santia’s life, but was unable to, and ended up injuring his right arm.
Phenton Cooper, another of the baby’s uncles who also tried to save her, said he was devastated by the loss.
“I ran through the fire and tried to run into the other room to get her, but the fire kept burning me in my face,” he said.
“I was bareback too and I wasn’t getting burned about my body, just my face.
“I tried three or four times to get to the baby, but just couldn’t.
“That had me stunned. I never expected to see anything like that.”
The Department of Social Services is paying for the family to stay at the Colony Club hotel for a month.
Police have yet to determine the cause of the blaze.
The child’s relatives said they lost everything in the fire and are asking anyone with a kind heart to donate what they can to help them move on.
They can be reached at 451-7595, 565-0207 and 467-9426.