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    Default Fire Kills 5-Year-Old Boy 5 Years After His Mother Was Murdered

    The link below contains news video of this tragedy

    http://wcbstv.com/local/local_story_063232025.html


    Tragedy Strikes Family For Second Time

    Fire Kills 5-Year-Old Boy 5 Years After His Mother Was Murdered

    (CBS) SAYREVILLE A 5-year-old boy was killed in a fire this morning after the boy's father left the child alone while he went to work. Tragically, the boy's mother was the victim of a murder-suicide five years ago.

    Erik Sturgis was found dead in a second floor bedroom of the family's home on Deerfield Road. Residents of the area are shocked.

    "I seen smoke over there and I saw the house was on fire and I came inside and I dialed 911," said Sean O' Grady, the victim's friend.

    O'Grady said he never realized the friend he loved to play football with was still inside when he called for help.

    "If I knew he was in there I would have run in and got him," he said.

    Police said Kevin Sturgis left for work around 8 a.m., leaving his five-year-old son home alone. The fire started a few hours later.

    "It's very very sad for a young boy to take off like that and go to heaven," said neighbor Tom Butler.

    This wasn't the family's first taste of tragedy. According to published reports, in 2001, the boy's mother and Kevin's ex-wife, 22-year-old Christina Sturgis, was killed by her 28-year-old boyfriend, James Hoehman, a Linden firefighter who later committed suicide.

    At the time Kevin was left to provide sole custody of Erik.

    Neighbor Mary O' Grady used to baby-sit Erik. She said his father was a good man who never left his son alone.
    She also said that Kevin was often caught between the responsibilities of his job at Wakefern Warehouse in South Brunswick and his son.

    "If he took the day off because he didn't have a babysitter, they said they would fire him," O'Grady said. "His union was not behind him. And I totally blame the job."

    Detectives said the boy's father was being questioned by prosecutors earlier Saturday. An autopsy is scheduled for Sunday.



    ( MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Who leaves a 5yr old home alone while they go off to work? I have no sympathy for the father - the welfare of your children trumps any job if you cant make any other arrangement.
    Warm Regards,
    Shawn Stoner
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSTONER
    Who leaves a 5yr old home alone while they go off to work? I have no sympathy for the father - the welfare of your children trumps any job if you cant make any other arrangement.
    Once again, you have no idea of the circumstances of this case and neither do I. But I wonder what type of desperate circumstances this father was in? I wonder if he was in a situation where he was faced with losing his job, but couldn't find a babysitter? By all local accounts, the boy was well cared for and happy. It sounds to me like the father was trying to make the best out of an awful situation. This guy was not one of those masters of child neglect who are sitting in a bar. This guy was at his job. I certainly have sympathy for him. He lost his son. He was indirectly responsible. I have sympathy for the situation that forced him to make this choice.

    The fact that there have been no criminal charges to this point is notable.

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    I think George has the right of it here. We are missing some probably very important key bits of information here. Leaving a 5yr old alone is not a "Best Option", but it might have been the better of several really bad options. I also think that the last line of George's post is very significant.

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    This happened in the town next to me and I happen to know the father involved in this unfortunate situation. Very nice guy and it is a shame what has happened to him and his child...Nothing has been released yet as tp why he left the child home alone and the only information going around now is just hear say and rumors.If I find out anymore information I will post it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Engine58
    This happened in the town next to me and I happen to know the father involved in this unfortunate situation. Very nice guy and it is a shame what has happened to him and his child...Nothing has been released yet as tp why he left the child home alone and the only information going around now is just hear say and rumors.If I find out anymore information I will post it.
    DO NOT post any more info here. You are exposing yourself to becoming a witness here. You certainly do not want to violate the confidence of this individual and put yourself in a compromised position.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MalahatTwo7
    A person has to do what a person has to do.
    Exactly right! If that means call off - then call off work and deal with the aftermath of that. A job can be replaced - you cant replace that young child.

    We are not talking about leaving a 13yr old home alone here. We are talking about a child that can not make any responsible descions here on thier own due to the age of the child.

    But I wonder what type of desperate circumstances this father was in?
    Well, per the article posted he was in danger of losing his job due to missing time due to no child care.

    Worth leaving a 5 yr old home alone? Not IMO.

    It sounds to me like the father was trying to make the best out of an awful situation. This guy was not one of those masters of child neglect who are sitting in a bar.
    Maybe he wasnt at the local bar drinking his favorite brew, however, it seems unfeasible there are no daycare providers in his area. Heck, his neighbor use to take care of his child at some point per the article.

    The fact that there have been no criminal charges to this point is notable.
    The fact that he was interviewed by the prosecutors shows that thier is some concern that he may not have acted in accordance to the law - as to what he could be charged and what they are willing to pursue is up to them.
    Warm Regards,
    Shawn Stoner
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    George I am not going to post anymore info reguarding this situation, I was just stating that I know the individual involved in this unfortunate situation and that if anymore information becomes available as per the news sources that I'd post it. I would never post anything that would comprise myself or the ongoing investigation. If anything I would post any available articles of the local news sources.
    Andrew
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSTONER
    Exactly right! If that means call off - then call off work and deal with the aftermath of that. A job can be replaced - you cant replace that young child.

    We are not talking about leaving a 13yr old home alone here. We are talking about a child that can not make any responsible descions here on thier own due to the age of the child.



    Well, per the article posted he was in danger of losing his job due to missing time due to no child care.

    Worth leaving a 5 yr old home alone? Not IMO.



    Maybe he wasnt at the local bar drinking his favorite brew, however, it seems unfeasible there are no daycare providers in his area. Heck, his neighbor use to take care of his child at some point per the article.



    The fact that he was interviewed by the prosecutors shows that thier is some concern that he may not have acted in accordance to the law - as to what he could be charged and what they are willing to pursue is up to them.
    You can have an opinion that what he did was wrong. I think what he did was wrong. But to say you have no sympathy, before you know exactly what the situation was in this family, is cold. Not everyone lives in a Brady Bunch situation.

    BTW, I didn't say he wouldn't be charged. I said that he hadn't been charged YET.

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    There is a very good reason one should never assume based on time of day, cars in the driveway or reports of any civilian or bystander that a structure is not occupied. I'm not saying this FD did that...I'm just making note of a good reminder as to why we ALWAYS perform a search.

    March 5, 2006
    Boy, 5, Dies in House Fire; Was Left Alone, Official Says
    By ANTHONY RAMIREZ and NATE SCHWEBER
    A 5-year-old boy left home alone died yesterday after a smoky fire of unknown origin broke out in his two-story house in Sayreville, N.J., the authorities said.

    The child, Erik Sturgis, was found unconscious in a second-floor bedroom at 11:47 a.m. He was taken to Raritan Bay Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 12:20 p.m., Bruce J. Kaplan, the Middlesex County prosecutor, said in an interview.

    The boy's father, Kevin Sturgis, 31, a worker at the Wakefern warehouse in South Brunswick, N.J., left him alone in the house at 14 Deerfield Road at 8 a.m., Mr. Kaplan said. The father was questioned yesterday but has not been charged with a crime, Mr. Kaplan said. The investigation of the boy's death is continuing.

    The county medical examiner plans an autopsy to determine the cause of Erik's death, but witnesses said smoke from the fire had engulfed the house.

    Mr. Sturgis, who could not be reached for comment, is divorced, according to public records. The boy's mother, Christina Sturgis, died in 2001 in what authorities called a murder-suicide initiated by her companion.

    Yesterday, smoke emerged from the Sturgis kitchen shortly after 11 a.m., according to Mary Rhatican, a neighbor who often baby-sat Erik.

    A playmate of Erik's, Sean O'Grady, 10, Ms. Rhatican's son, said he was outside and saw "a whole bunch of smoke."

    "I ran inside, and said, 'Oh my God, Erik's house is on fire.' " Sean said.

    Ms. Rhatican said her son called 911 about 11:20 a.m. Another neighbor, who declined to give his name, said he used a household fire extinguisher, while standing outside of the house, to quell the fire in the kitchen, but smoke continued to fill the house.

    Because neighbors thought the house was empty, they were startled when they heard cries of, "There's a victim."

    Christina Sturgis died in 2001 in what the Warren County prosecutor, John Laky, described as a murder-suicide. At the time of her death, Ms. Sturgis, who divorced Mr. Sturgis after less than a year of marriage, was living with James Hoehman in a secluded house in Mansfield, N.J.

    The bodies were discovered, according to The Star-Ledger of Newark, on the morning of Dec. 8 after Mr. Hoehman, a firefighter with the Linden Fire Department, was late for work.

    Ms. Sturgis was found with a fatal bullet wound behind her right ear, from a handgun. Mr. Hoehman was also found with a fatal bullet wound, above his right ear at close range.


    FTM-PTB

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    You're absolutely correct Fred!

    We never assume a structure is unoccupied. Even when the resident is on scene and states everyone is out, we will still conduct a thorough primary and secondary.

    God Bless Eric and his family! Their sorrow must be unimaginable!




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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    He was indirectly responsible..
    He was directly responsible. No matter why he left the child alone. Good reason or bad. He is responsible. Directly. Full stop. I feel bad for him the same way I feel bad for people who don't use car seats because they can't afford them- Being poor is not an excuse for disregarding your child's safety. SOunds severe, yes. But look at the alternative..

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    Quote Originally Posted by transplant
    He was directly responsible. No matter why he left the child alone. Good reason or bad. He is responsible. Directly. Full stop. I feel bad for him the same way I feel bad for people who don't use car seats because they can't afford them- Being poor is not an excuse for disregarding your child's safety. SOunds severe, yes. But look at the alternative..
    He is NOT directly responsible. He did not set the fire. He did not cause the fire. He did not trap the child in the house. He made a poor decision. The fire did not occur as a result of the decision.

    Let's hope someone is more forgiving than you are when YOU make a poor decision. And, someday, you will.

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    It is a sucky situation, especially considering it happened so close to my home town. I have heard some stories about the scene, I'm sure many of the FFs and EMS personnel are still dealing with what happened.

    that being said, I have a question for FFFRED (and anyone else who cares to answer). If you have a SFD, with flames shooting out every window, or every window of a certain floor, when do you conduct a search? do you wait until the house/fire floor has been vented and the hose team has started to knock down the fire, or or do you send your search team in ahead of the hose, where they take a beating, are exposed to high heat and fire without the protection of a hose?

    I would imagine that in many of these fires, any people trapped would already be dead, but my question is when or how does a search get conducted?
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    You can have an opinion that what he did was wrong. I think what he did was wrong. But to say you have no sympathy, before you know exactly what the situation was in this family, is cold. Not everyone lives in a Brady Bunch situation.

    BTW, I didn't say he wouldn't be charged. I said that he hadn't been charged YET.
    George,

    I may be a little jaded to situations like this one, however, no matter what was going on "in the family" to me, there is no justification to leave a 5 yr old child home alone.

    My mom was single parent who raised me from the time I was born to the time I turned 18 - the only Brady Bunch I know was on TV.

    Let's hope someone is more forgiving than you are when YOU make a poor decision. And, someday, you will.
    Everyone can make a poor call once in awhile - but if you cant see that the decision you are going to make puts your child at risk then shame on you.
    Warm Regards,
    Shawn Stoner
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSTONER
    George,

    I may be a little jaded to situations like this one, however, no matter what was going on "in the family" to me, there is no justification to leave a 5 yr old child home alone.

    My mom was single parent who raised me from the time I was born to the time I turned 18 - the only Brady Bunch I know was on TV.



    Everyone can make a poor call once in awhile - but if you cant see that the decision you are going to make puts your child at risk then shame on you.
    I never said there was any justification for it and I never said the decision wasn't wrong. But I have been around enough and I have seen enough people make poor decisions that I know for a fact they are all not bad people because they have made a poor decision.

    My issue was the comment that you made about having no sympathy. Unfortunately, given life choices like putting food on the table, some people make decisions that are not properly thought out. This one had tragic circumstances. I have sympathy for him. And I can do that w/o condoning his actions.

    Do me a favor. Ask your Mom if she has sympathy for him. I'll bet she does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Do me a favor. Ask your Mom if she has sympathy for him. I'll bet she does.

    ahhhh...only if you new my Mother George
    Warm Regards,
    Shawn Stoner
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrParasite
    that being said, I have a question for FFFRED (and anyone else who cares to answer). If you have a SFD, with flames shooting out every window, or every window of a certain floor, when do you conduct a search? do you wait until the house/fire floor has been vented and the hose team has started to knock down the fire, or or do you send your search team in ahead of the hose, where they take a beating, are exposed to high heat and fire without the protection of a hose?

    I would imagine that in many of these fires, any people trapped would already be dead, but my question is when or how does a search get conducted?
    We are speaking of savable people under circumstances...keep the sarcasm to a minimum and yes as soon as possible after the fire is knocked down the Truck will be in there doing a search and a thorough secondary will be done to find any bodies.

    As for all the windows of a certain floor...the other floor then must be searched and around here will be...the first floor is involved...well then efforts will be focused on the 2nd or 3rd. VES will be used and a primary will be conducted.

    We always conduct a search...I said nothing of walking into a fully involved building did I? Do you really need to ask that question?

    I've worked in other places that often the Chiefs would make assumptions based on reports from civilians that everyone was out or that search didn't need to begin right away because there were no cars in the driveway at 1400 hrs...One had the occupant out front and he stated there was no one inside (relatively small fire that involved the front room of an apartment) The officer sent a man to get water from the bath tub and found a man passed out in there from Alcohol...I know many times teenagers sneek home after school and are in their room or basement without mom knowing because she is busy elsewhere in the house.

    All bad excuses for getting the most important task done on the fireground.

    FTM-PTB

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    Quote Originally Posted by SSTONER
    ahhhh...only if you new my Mother George
    Ask her anyway. You will probably be surprised.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Ask her anyway. You will probably be surprised.
    Ok, I will. You might be surprised at the answer you hear.

    And you mean you can feel empathy right? Not Sympathy?
    Warm Regards,
    Shawn Stoner
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSTONER
    Ok, I will. You might be surprised at the answer you hear.

    And you mean you can feel empathy right? Not Sympathy?
    Sympathy AND empathy.

    Here is one of the definitions of sympathy:
    A feeling or an expression of pity or sorrow for the distress of another; compassion or commiseration

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    He is NOT directly responsible. He did not set the fire. He did not cause the fire. He did not trap the child in the house. He made a poor decision. The fire did not occur as a result of the decision.

    Let's hope someone is more forgiving than you are when YOU make a poor decision. And, someday, you will.
    Wow. Just wow. There is no logic here. None. Straight emotion, through and through.
    POINT #1 : Who cares how the fire started? If it was an electrical malfunction or the kid was playing with matches, it doesn't matter. HE CANNOT CARE FOR HIMSELF BECAUSE HE IS FIVE. He needs somebody to CARE for him.
    POINT #2 : I'm going to go out on a limb and say the father probably locked the doors, so yes, the child was probably trapped in the house by his father. But it is a moot point: if the front door was wide open, it would still be the adults responsibility to ENSURE HIS SAFETY and extricate him from danger.
    POINT #3 : Again, who cares how the fire started? The DEATH is the important part. The death occurred as a direct result of the father leaving the child home alone and unattended. Period.
    And as for forgiveness, I am curious. If the father is not responsible, why should he need forgiveness?
    As far as myself, if/when I screw up, I hope to get forgiveness from only those I have wronged. And I cannot do so unless I accept responsibilty for my own actions. Consequences are simply a fact of life. They follow every decision, good or bad. Sometimes, God goes so far as to show us that bad consequnces CAN FOLLOW good decisions. It happens despite our best intentions. (Every company officer should know that lesson well). Unfortunately, that does not relieve the person in charge from responsibility.
    The fact is, that there is a wide gulf between "accidental" and "negligent". I am sure he is sorry, I am sure he didn't do it intentionally. What parent believes that if you lock a five year old in a normally stocked home and leave them unsupervised, you can expect things to be ok when you get home?
    But daggone George, how far removed you are from reality when you can't even assign responsibilty for a child's well being to his parent without going on about forgiveness.
    Come on.

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    I would NEVER leave my small children alone in the house for any reason...EVER!

    There is NOTHING more important than their safety and well being! NOTHING! Not my career, not my home...NOTHING!

    I feel very sorry for this father's loss, and I feel very sorry for the suffering and fear his son felt. It deeply saddens me. But I will never put my children is a situation like that for any reason whatsoever.

    The priorities of the father were completely wrong. I presume he knows that now, but it is too late!




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    Quote Originally Posted by transplant
    Wow. Just wow. There is no logic here. None. Straight emotion, through and through.
    POINT #1 : Who cares how the fire started? If it was an electrical malfunction or the kid was playing with matches, it doesn't matter. HE CANNOT CARE FOR HIMSELF BECAUSE HE IS FIVE. He needs somebody to CARE for him.
    POINT #2 : I'm going to go out on a limb and say the father probably locked the doors, so yes, the child was probably trapped in the house by his father. But it is a moot point: if the front door was wide open, it would still be the adults responsibility to ENSURE HIS SAFETY and extricate him from danger.
    POINT #3 : Again, who cares how the fire started? The DEATH is the important part. The death occurred as a direct result of the father leaving the child home alone and unattended. Period.
    And as for forgiveness, I am curious. If the father is not responsible, why should he need forgiveness?
    As far as myself, if/when I screw up, I hope to get forgiveness from only those I have wronged. And I cannot do so unless I accept responsibilty for my own actions. Consequences are simply a fact of life. They follow every decision, good or bad. Sometimes, God goes so far as to show us that bad consequnces CAN FOLLOW good decisions. It happens despite our best intentions. (Every company officer should know that lesson well). Unfortunately, that does not relieve the person in charge from responsibility.
    The fact is, that there is a wide gulf between "accidental" and "negligent". I am sure he is sorry, I am sure he didn't do it intentionally. What parent believes that if you lock a five year old in a normally stocked home and leave them unsupervised, you can expect things to be ok when you get home?
    But daggone George, how far removed you are from reality when you can't even assign responsibilty for a child's well being to his parent without going on about forgiveness.
    Come on.
    Removed? Me? How about investigating almost 200 fire deaths in the past 25 years? About 1/3 children. Does that make me detached? Or does that give me a perspective that perhaps you do not have?

    No one is arguing that the father is not responsible for the welfare of his child. But this man is not an arsonist, not a murderer and not a child abuser. You see, all of those crimes take a conscious, motivated act towards that end. There was no alcohol or drugs involved. There were no vacations to Vegas involved. This was a poor decision that resulted in the tragic death of his son. It was arguably criminal negligence. But to assign the level of culpability that several of you want to assign, would have required him to wake up in the morning and decide that he was going to start a fire or murder his child.

    The cause of the fire has EVERYTHING to do with this case. There was no criminal activity assigned to the fire cause. That makes it an ACCIDENT. A tragic, unplanned event. Was it unforeseen? Absolutely not. Is he responsible for making a choice that placed his son in a position where he was unable to fend for himself when an ACCIDENT occurred? Absolutely.

    Where did you get the silly idea that he has not accepted responsibilty for his actions? Not from the newspapers you haven't. Not from anything posted here you haven't. You simply and conveniently made it up.

    You, and a couple of others, need to take a good long look inside yourselves and put yourself in a position where a decision you made could have resulted in tragedy. Then tell me if you would want to be forgiven. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It also does not mean not holding someone acountable.

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    Oh Boy, here I go again, defending George. But simply speaking on technical terms, this man IS NOT directly responsible for the death. Indirectly, sure. But unless he purposely started the fire, and purposely locked his kid in a room to die, then no. He is not directly responsible. The fire was. (Or more than likely, CO.)

    As for Dr. P....all I can say is wow.
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