The daily beast
‘It’s a crazy nightmare’: mom recounts her last moments with her 3 children who died in a power outage in Texas
Courtesy of Jackie Nguyen Last Monday, Jackie Pham Nguyen was grateful that she still had electricity at her home in Texas. Her children – Colette, 5, Edison, 8, and Olivia, 11 – played in the snow that morning before going in for hot chocolate and leftovers. food for Lunar New Year celebrations. For hours, they played Bananagrams and other board games and their grandmother, Loan Le, joined them. The 75-year-old, who had lost heat in her own residence amid state power outages, braved icy roads to take refuge in their Sugar Land home. These three siblings tragically died in Deep Freeze in Texas. This was not necessarily the case. Honestly, it was a great day. We had lunch at home, spent some time. The kids were glad we didn’t have school because it was Presidents’ Day, and we just had the news in the background all the time, ”said Jackie. “All day long I felt grateful that we were one of the 10 to 15 percent of Houston that had electricity.” When the lights went out at 5 p.m., the family were not deterred. They huddled together to warm up, Jackie lit the fireplace and they continued to play games. At around 9:30 or 10 p.m., Jackie put the kids in her bed upstairs and went to sleep in her bedroom downstairs. Four hours later, the house was on fire. Jackie said she didn’t remember much of that night, except that when she woke up in a hospital bed, a firefighter informed her that the kids – and her mother – were gone. “After that, I couldn’t breathe. Even now I can’t believe it. It’s a crazy nightmare and I’m going to wake up any minute now, “Jackie told The Daily Beast.” How did we all have this perfectly normal day and how did it end like that? it? Authorities are investigating the causes of the blaze, which comes amid extreme weather conditions and a deadly statewide electrical crisis. Initial reports on social media suggested the hell may have started with the fire the family started to warm themselves up. Dozens of people in Texas – and across America – died in the winter storms of the past week. The cold snap particularly took its toll in Lone Star State, where millions of people lost power, heat and water due to failures in the state’s infrastructure. Cristian Pineda, 11, died of suspected hypothermia in his freezing cold. mobile home in Conroe. The sixth-grader and his family came to the United States from Honduras two years ago. Cristian’s mother, Maria, has filed a $ 100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the state grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and utility company Entergy Corporation Houston’s mother Etenesh Mersha and 7-year-old daughter Rakeb Shalemu have died of carbon monoxide poisoning after desperately seeking heat in their car. Andy Anderson, a Vietnam veteran in Crosby died of hypothermia while trying to run a generator; He relied on an oxygen machine, which does not work without electricity. There are many tragic stories of loss, and probably more to come. Vanessa Kon, an aunt of the Nguyen children, told The Daily Beast that she thought officials should have been prepared for the power grid disaster. Courtesy of Jackie Nguyen “We don’t know what happened,” Kon said. “We don’t know why the lights went out like that. The city should have been prepared for it. Why has the power been cut off? If the power had not been cut, this would not have happened. For her part, Jackie hasn’t even begun to consider the negligence charges against Texas power operators. “I’m in this sort of triage crisis mode right now,” Jackie told us from an extended stay hotel. “I’m just waiting for what people have to say.” ‘People Are Greedy’: Absurd Electricity Bills Slamming TexansJackie said she spent two days in a hospital burn unit before leaving against doctors’ advice. For several days she still smelled smoke from her burning house, until she finally found a hotel with running water. “I don’t remember much that night,” she said. “I suffered a lot from smoke inhalation. It kind of altered my brain cognition. I really hope a big part will come back. Because I want to be able to piece it all together. Jackie recalls letting Olivia talk on Zoom with her friends from a summer camp in New York that night, despite the desire to conserve power on their electronics in anticipation of blackouts. “I’m grateful I gave up a bit, so she could have it.” So that his friends can have that memory, ”Jackie said. She remembers the kids trying to teach Loan to play the Speed card game, but Loan didn’t get it. She thinks of little Colette, nicknamed Coco, suggesting mixing chocolate syrup with milk because they have run out of cocoa mixture. Jackie said Grandma Loan lived only five miles away and didn’t usually spent the night nowhere except at home. Even during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Loan stubbornly chose to be left alone. “I thought it was so weird that she didn’t even give me a hard time coming,” Jackie said of Monday’s sleepover. “I kinda wonder… if things turned out that way for her to be here.” She could not have survived knowing what happened to her grandchildren. The grieving mother – who suffered burns and smoke inhalation from the blaze – said a single blow was repeated in her mind. She remembers standing in the hall of her two-story house and encountering walls of flame. She shouted for the children but did not hear them. All she heard was the crackle of the fire, the sound of the walls disintegrating. She believes her friend, a light sleeper who stayed that night, dragged her out of the house. The friend tried to call 911 but her phone was not working, so she ran out and knocked on the neighbors’ door. “Obviously, as a parent, you wonder if there was anything you could have done,” Jackie said. “The way it was explained to me is right: I’m lucky to be alive. There was nothing else for me to do. As Jackie tries to piece together what happened that night, she said she wanted people to know who her children were – and how important their grandmother was in their lives, a hero. unrecognized and cemented that Jackie’s parents moved to the United States in 1981 from Vietnam, where Jackie was born. Loan and her husband, Cau Pham, were refugees in Malaysia before coming to California and later moving to Texas. Jackie’s three children were first generation Americans. See this post on Instagram A post shared by Jackie Pham Nguyen (@jaxwin) “Without my kids I don’t think she would have been successful as long as she has,” Jackie said of Loan, adding that Cau passed away several years ago. “They gave him a goal. She scheduled everything around their 3pm pickup from school. Or she did some shopping for us. “I can’t say enough about how my mom was a rock to me and saved my children’s grace,” Jackie added. Jackie’s colleagues from tech firm Topl and her cohort at Rice University, where she will be earning an MBA this spring, launched a GoFundMe that has raised more than $ 278,000. At the moment, the fundraiser is a placeholder for a future foundation in honor of Colette, Edison and Olivia. (Kon also created a GoFundMe on behalf of her brother, Nathan Nguyen, the father of the children.) All of her children, she said, were very different “little humans”. Olivia, the first born, was witty and sarcastic, and loved to ski and listen to Queen, Journey and other classic rock music. “She really is an old soul – stuck in this high school kid’s body,” Jackie said. “She will tell me what the songs are about. Anything she was curious about would plunge her. Every song, she reads the lyrics, looks at the story, the band members. She could have been on Jeopardy or some sort of trivia. The mother and daughter shared a special connection; both were the oldest in their family. “She was such a good big sister,” Jackie said. “It was a love-hate relationship [being the oldest child]. It is a burden. It’s another way between her and me to tell each other. Edison had just turned 8 in November and was a sweet, gentle boy who loved art and painting and was oddly in tune with the moods of others. Jackie said Edison was mildly autistic and struggled with social tact, but he was also incredibly considerate. “He could always sense if I was sad or if I was stressed, or if I was worried. He would only see me – my 8 year old! “I asked him, ‘Are you happy, son? Are you having a good day?’ The things we often said to each other were, “If you’re happy, I’m happy,” said Jackie. “If you spent a minute with him, you just knew he had such a warm heart.” Colette, at 5, was a girly girl and herself unashamedly – especially when making videos for TikTok. She even directed and presented a PowerPoint show for Jackie’s birthday, with a slide that read, “Top 5 Reasons I Love Mom.” “She was dancing constantly and talking to herself, like she was on a live show,” Jackie said. “She wouldn’t accept his birth order. Either way, no one could hit her and intimidate her. But she was also very loving and affectionate, always hugging her mother or holding her hand. “Even when she’s looking at you, she’s looking at you longingly and deep in your eyes, it’s adorable,” Jackie said. Jackie said she wanted GoFundMe money to go to performing and visual arts causes, autism awareness and reading. literacy – themes that speak directly to who his children were as people. “They are amazing little humans and they would have grown up to be awesome, to really contribute and make a difference,” she said. for them. This is the kindness they could have done if they had been able to live their lives. For more, check out The Daily Beast. Do you have any advice? 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