‘I couldn’t make it’: Man describes efforts to save boy, 12, from deadly fire

Days after celebrating his 12th birthday, a boy was killed Sunday morning in a fire at his mother’s Butts County home.

His mother’s fiance, Shawn Wadsworth, told Channel 2 Action News he did everything he could to get his family to safety when the fire broke out about 6:40 a.m. at the home in the 1300 block of Ga. 42.

The woman and her 16-year-old daughter made it out, but the boy, identified as Ayden, did not.

“I couldn't make it," Wadsworth told the news station, his voice shaking.

Ayden was in town to celebrate his birthday Thursday with his mother and sister, Naveah, Wadsworth said. They were alerted to the fire by billowing smoke.

The fire started in a bedroom in the back of the house, according to Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King. Investigators believe it was caused by a space heater, King said in a news release.

Wadsworth said both the 16-year-old and her mother screamed for his help, so he grabbed them first and took them out onto the porch. Then he tried to head back inside for Ayden.

“When the smoke came at me, it flashed and it knocked me backward, so I backed up,” he said. “I shut the door. I opened it again. I tried to dive up under it to go in ... everything I could, but it wasn't enough.”

A 12-year-old boy was pronounced dead at the scene, and his 16-year-old sister was taken by helicopter to Grady Memorial Hospital.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

icon to expand image

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

The 16-year-old girl was taken by helicopter to Grady Memorial Hospital to be treated for burns, according to Channel 2. She underwent surgery Sunday night.

The tragic incident has taken a toll on the firefighters who responded.

“It’s terrible,” Butts County fire Chief Mike Wilson told Channel 2 from the scene. “It’s terrible. We’ve got several firefighters just devastated.”

The Red Cross is also working to help the displaced and grieving family. Wadsworth said Ayden was a great kid, and he will be missed.

“There is a reason behind it, you know,” he said of the boy’s death. “Maybe they needed him up there.”

It was one of two fatal fires in North Georgia within 24 hours that was caused by a space heater, King said.

A man’s body was found after a propane space heater started a blaze at a home on Pine Drive in Jackson, he said. The man’s body was turned over to the GBI Crime Lab for an autopsy and identification.

In other news: 

Investigators are working to determine the cause of the wreck.