A Puyallup woman, whose baby daughter died the day after she rescued her son from a fiery explosion that destroyed their home, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of first-degree arson, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.
On April 1, Melinda Kay Sayers, 37, told authorities that she and her 2-year-old son, Eli, had become trapped in her bedroom after she saw smoke in the house. She said she threw the boy out the ground-floor window and then jumped out after him before an explosion.
“I opened it up, kicked the screen out, threw him out, threw my cellphone and jumped out the window,” Sayers told Q13 Fox after the fire. “About two to three seconds later, there was a huge explosion.”
Firefighters dubbed Sayers “superwoman,” for saving her son, according to the TV station.
Sayers’ 11-month-old daughter, Abigail, who was hospitalized at the time of the fire, died the next day. Born prematurely at 24 weeks, she spent most of her life at Seattle Children’s hospital. She underwent multiple brain surgeries, suffered multiple cardiac arrests and breathed through a tracheostomy tube.
Among hospital staff, Abigail became known as the Seattle Seahawks’ “littlest fan.” Her family — Sayers is married and has two other daughters — often would dress her up in Seahawks gear and paint her nails with green and blue nail polish. She was visited by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in November.
Abigail was scheduled to be discharged from the hospital to go home April 1, but she had seizures that night and was returned to the hospital’s intensive-care unit, according to a crowdfunding site set up for the family.
The fund, which was still open for donations Thursday night, was started by a relative. So far, it has generated $32,000 to help replace the family’s belongings and help with funeral costs. A celebration of life for Abigail is scheduled for Saturday.
The fire and explosion were caused by a leaking oxygen tank that was in the house for Abigail, the sheriff’s department said after the fire.
Evidence at the scene indicated the fire was not an accident, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said in a news release.
Detectives interviewed Sayers on Thursday and determined they had enough evidence for an arrest. She was booked into the Pierce County Corrections Center Thursday afternoon and remained in custody Thursday night, according to jail records. Her first court appearance is scheduled for Friday.
Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2530 or firstname.lastname@example.org