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News Update: Heroic actions to get teen survivor of house fire overseas


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This week’s development as Newsmaker of the Week just ended are the valiant efforts to have 13-year-old Adrianna Laing, the sole survivor of a house fire in Westmoreland a week ago, airlifted to the United States for life-saving treatment.

The latest development about her progress is that she has responded well to her first surgery at Joseph M Still Burn Centre in Austell, Georgia in the United States.

Hours before the start of the new school year, the nation was left reeling at the devastating news that three young brothers had died in a house fire at their home in Springfield, Westmoreland on Sunday night. Their eldest sister, Adrianna, survived and was rushed to hospital locally.

The deceased were identified as Jayden and Jorden Laing, both seven years old, and eight-year-old Adriano Laing. All three were students at Sheffield Primary School.

Reports from the Savanna-la-Mar police were that at about 9:40 pm on Sunday, the children were at home with their father, Adrian Laing when a candle was lit because of a power outage in the area.

It is reported that the father was some way from the dwelling when he realized that the house was engulfed in flames. Efforts were made to rescue the children, but only Adrianna was saved by a man who was passing by the burning house.

Firefighters have reportedly indicated that they are probing whether a candle was, in fact, lit, as their preliminary probe may be indicating otherwise. 

A representative of the fire department did not elaborate on that suggestion during a television interview, citing the ongoing investigation into the matter.

During her back-to-school tour on Monday, Minister of Education and Youth, Fayval Williams, expressed condolences to the Laing family on the loss of the three young children.

About Adrianna, Williams said: “We’re praying and hoping that she will recover fully from all of this, and we are saying to the parents… we are with you; we’re here supporting you.”

The father of the children has been overwhelmed with grief since the development, as at the time of first hearing of the fire, he did not believe that it was at his home, “because the children dem did over the family next door,” he told reporters.

“I never know that dem come back to the house… The current did go inna the area, so it looks like dem light candle or something,” said Laing, giving a different account than the police report on the incident.

By Wednesday, it became evident that Adrianna who had been transferred to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), needed to be airlifted to the United States, as no burn unit is available in Jamaica.

The three young brothers who perished in last Sunday’s fire in Springfield, Westmoreland. 

At a press conference on Wednesday, Laing called on corporate Jamaica and other individuals residing in the diaspora, to assist with getting his daughter to be treated at the Joseph M. Still Burn Centre.

It was disclosed that US$39,872.50 (approximately J$5,641,888) was required for an air ambulance to transport her from Jamaica to the United States.

“I am just calling on corporate Jamaica to get on board… I’m begging,” Laing pleaded at the time.

He added: “I have lost three of my boys and my daughter is the only surviving pickney that can lift me back up.”

Laing, a radio disc jockey and single father, said Adrianna’s mother was of little help, and the mother of the three deceased boys has been missing for a year.

The local-based Sanmerna Foundation played an integral role in getting Adrianna accepted at the burn center in the United States. They also rallied in getting a passport done for her in quick time.

Project Manager at the foundation, Stephen Josephs, spearheaded those efforts, along with Managing Director Robert White.

By Thursday afternoon, news came that Adrianna was airlifted out of Jamaica to the burn unit in Georgia, United States.

Several persons and companies, including Devon House and Jamaica’s Consul General in Miami, Oliver Mair, are among those who played roles in securing the required funds for the air ambulance service.

Jamaicans, in their own spiritual ways, expressed their optimism relative to the latest development concerning Adrianna.

“May God be with her as she goes to Atlanta, Georgia to do (her) surgery. I pray for her father that God will give him the strength to pull through,” wrote Hyacinth Haynes, a Facebook user.

Shared Joan Johns: “The Lord is on the case. We leave her in ur hand, Lord, and thanks to all our Jamaican people and others around the globe who made it possible for her to go to the USA. We r (are) praying darling.”

Verona O’Hara stated: “Thank you, Jesus. Lord lay your gentle hands on her… Cover Dr. Amen.”

Other social media users welcomed the unified effort to airlift Adrianna from Jamaica.

“I just wish the youths in Jamaica could dig deep within themselves and realize how powerful we are as a nation if we only unite,” shared Jermaine Johnson.

In responding to Johnson’s comments, Martella Mullings said: “Jermaine Johnson, that’s a wish we all waiting for to be united. We all praying for healing for this little angel here.”

Theresa Terr Terr said: “One thing with Jamaicans, whether here or abroad… Dem ago comes through when the time is right.”

Meanwhile, there were calls by some social media users for a comprehensive probe by the police and firefighters into the house fire.

“Get well soon girl (Adrianna Laing), and tell us what really happened, because that fire is not normal. Police need to probe the case well, trust me,” commented Michelle Harvey.

“Three innocent boys went just like that. RIP. Waiting for the police/fire people to tell us what really goes down. Speedy recovery Adrianna,” stated Robert Green, a Facebook user.

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