Autistic Boy and Foster Sister Tragically Killed in Fire

Michael and Gill Wojak
Stephanie, 15 and Ben, 8

By Nicole Hegewald

On Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 10:30 a.m. in Devon, England, calls started flooding in about a house fire. It is unknown how the fire was started but it ended in tragedy. Michael and Gill Wojak along with their twenty year old son, Ricky, escaped the blaze. Fifteen-year old Stephani and her eight year old foster brother Ben McAuliffe weren’t so lucky. Police say if it wasn’t for the quick actions of their neighbors the whole family would have been lost.

“The fire service received seven calls just after 10:30 a.m. and the fire started on the ground-floor front-facing room and took hold very quickly which is what prevented the escape,” said Fire Inspector Glen Mayhew. “There were great heroics by the neighbors who tried to effect a rescue.”

More than 20 firefighters were at the scene

Michael and Gill had been fostering Ben since he was six months old. Neighbors described him as a “happy little soul” saying he would wave to them from his upstairs window. Ben was diagnosed with autism and had other learning disabilities.

Ben attended Combe Pafford, and Stephani attended Westlands School. The headmaster’s paid tribute to both students and made counselors available to help their fellow classmates and friends. The entire community is devastated.

Devon and Cornwall Police said yesterday that the children died after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest as a result of smoke inhalation. More than 20 firefighters were at the scene and eight wore sets of breathing gear to battle inside the house to find Stephani and Ben.

“We have lost two beautiful, loving children and it has just hit us watching other parents taking their kids to school that a normal Monday morning will never happen again,” said Michael and Gill.

This entry was posted in Autism Awareness, Autism Media Coverage, Autism News, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Comments

  1. jennifer
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    oH MY FRIGGIN’ GOD THIS TRAGEDY SHOULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED
    HERE IN ONTARIO CANADA THE LAW IS A SMOKE DETECTOR IN EVERY ROOM OF THE HOME!
    UTTER DISCRACE THAT THE FOSTER PARENTS AND THEIR ADULT SON CAME OUT ALIVE BUT THE TWO WHO ARE DEPENDANT ON THE ADULTS SUFFER THE DEATH.
    I AM HORRIFIED MY TEARS ARE FREE FLOWING AND I AM SHOCKED AND PISSED OFF THAT THIS SHOULD HAPPEN.
    JENNIFER KIRKLAND SOUTH DUNDAS TOWNSHIP, SD&G ONTARIO CANADA

  2. Posted October 20, 2009 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Im deeply saddend by this. I too have experienced tragedy, by the loss of my autistic son in a tragic event. I send my prayers to this family, and condolences. I really understand their loss, and know their pain. He holds his legacy, both of these children..

  3. Posted October 25, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I AM DEEPLY SORRY FOR THE PARENTS LOSS. BUT I DO AGREE WITH: JENNIFER KIRKLAND SOUTH DUNDAS TOWNSHIP, SD&G ONTARIO CANADA.
    I ALSO HAVE AN AUTISTIC SON WHO IS 7, AND I EXPERIENCED A HOUSE FIRE WHEN I WAS IS HIGH SCHOOL OVER 10 YEARS AGO. I WOULD HAVE DIED LOOKING FOR MY AUTISTIC SON IF THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN ME, KNOW THAT HE DEPENDS ON ME AND WOULD NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO, BUT WAIT FOR ME.
    FOR WITH HIS DISABILITIES I KNOW HE COMPLETLY DEPENDS ON ME AT ALL TIMES.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>