A Survivor's Story: Carrie Bugbee Speaks OutPosted: Updated:
First, Carrie Bugbee just wants to say thanks. Thanks for the condolence cards from perfect strangers. Thanks to everyone who gave at the McDonald's restaurant. Thanks to those who gave at GoFundMe. And thanks for the little things. She remembers in particular a knitted scarf.
“She's, like, I want to give you something to wrap yourself in so you'll be nice and warm when you have to go out. It was really sweet,” said Carrie.
On December 19, fire swept through Carrie's home in West Stockholm. The blaze took the lives of all three of Carrie's children.
They were 6 year old Allazza Bugbee, 5 year old Livia Bugbee, and 14 year old Shaylee Baxter. Carrie's husband, William, also died in the fire. He was trying to rescue the girls.
“He jumped right out of bed, ran and yelled, 'House fire!' And I tried to follow him and I couldn't. The smoke by then was already overwhelming,” said Carrie.
Carrie returned to the scene of the tragic fire only once. It was too painful and she couldn't stay. But family members did retrieve her daughter Allazza's baby pillow and other children's keepsakes.
Carrie believes Shaylee may have also tried to rescue her sisters. She remembers the girls the same as many of their schoolmates and others who have spoken out since the fire.
“They were all three great girls. They all had smiles on their faces,” she said.
A GoFundMe campaign was started by a fellow McDonald's employee. The goal, at first, was to cover funeral expenses. It has since raised more than $34,000. That employee, Annette Peacock, thinks the fund raising is both about helping Carrie and about something just as important.
“They will always be remembered. You know, there are so many that are going to remember these guys and keep their memory alive, which is very awesome. They touched people's hearts,” said Peacock.
Carrie says she hopes people can learn from her experience. She hopes others can be a source of strength for her and she for them.
And she hopes a community larger than she could ever imagined knows her gratitude.