Community shares grief over child’s death

Blaze that claimed life of Kaylee Ann Ramos is ruled accidental

BY CLARE MARIE CELANO Staff Writer

The Freehold Borough community is continuing to mourn the loss of Kaylee Ramos, 12, who lost her life in a fire that raged through her Court Street, Freehold Borough, home in the early morning hours of Feb. 2. Kaylee was a sixthgrade pupil at the Freehold Intermediate School.

JEFF GRANIT staff A stuffed teddy bear finds its special place on a memorial outside the Court Street, Freehold Borough, home where Kaylee Ramos, 12, died in a house fire Feb. 2. Several efforts within the community have sought to provide support for Kaylee's mother and sisters. JEFF GRANIT staff A stuffed teddy bear finds its special place on a memorial outside the Court Street, Freehold Borough, home where Kaylee Ramos, 12, died in a house fire Feb. 2. Several efforts within the community have sought to provide support for Kaylee’s mother and sisters. According to Monmouth County First Assistant Prosecutor Peter E. Warshaw Jr., the fire that took Kaylee’s life was accidental and electrical in nature.

In response to the tragedy there has been an outpouring of support for Kaylee’s surviving family members. Her mother, Gina, and sisters, Lacey, 16, Julianne, 10, and Gracie, 2, are now staying with relatives in Manalapan. The family lost everything in the fire and area residents are pitching in to help them get back on their feet.

Reacting to the events of the past week, Gina Ramos told the News Transcript on Feb. 9 that she will never leave the area because she will be spending the rest of her life giving back to the community that has given so much to her in her time of need.

“It will take the rest of my life to pay everyone back,” she said.

Ramos said she is overwhelmed by the support she has received from area residents. She said hundreds of people have come to her mother’s home in Manalapan to extend their condolences and they have come bearing gifts.

Whether it is cards, gift cards, clothing or food, she said that she had no idea there was so much love out there.

“I had no idea what this community was capable of doing. I didn’t know that love like this existed,” Ramos said.

From local businesses to schools, students and teachers, and area organizations, the list of those who have contributed gifts, money, clothing and emotional support has been extensive and appreciated, Ramos said.

One such support effort began with an e-mail that was sent to Tracey Frederick of Freehold Township. The e-mail, which Frederick received from a close friend, also a mutual friend of Kaylee’s family, informed Frederick about the fire and asked her if she could help.

Frederick said she then sent an e-mail to 25 or 30 of her friends in an effort to enlist their help for Kaylee’s family. The effort extended past her own acquaintances as the email, which included Frederick’s telephone number, eventually circulated to many more individuals.

“I received many phone calls and people who I had never seen before showed up” with donations, she said.

The donated clothing was sorted, washed, ironed, folded and delivered to Kaylee’s mother and sisters, according to Frederick. Clothing that is not needed by the family will be donated to another charity.

She said that for now, the family’s clothing needs seemed to be addressed. Still needed are personal items such as toiletries, nonperishable foods and school supplies for the girls. Gift cards are also appreciated, she said.

“People have been so lovely and so wonderful,” Frederick said. “We live in a community of angels.”

Anyone who would like more information may contact Tracy Frederick at naillove@optonline.net.

Members of the Freehold Borough Community Information Committee are also helping to coordinate a response to the tragedy. Committee Chairman Brian Sullivan and committee member Kevin Asadi have been working on the effort since hearing about the deadly house fire.

Asadi created a space on the Internet Web site Chipin to collect money for the family. His goal is to reach $5,000. By Feb. 6, $872 in donations had been made through the Web site. Asadi said he felt very sad upon hearing the news of the fire and Kaylee’s death.

“I knew the family must have so much to think about and do and thought they could use the support of the community to at least try to replace the things that are replaceable,” he said.

Asadi, of Freehold Borough, said his purpose in setting up the Web site was to allow people who do not live in Freehold Borough or who do not have time to drop off a check but would like to help the family, to have access to a way to provide monetary support if they wish to do so.

Anyone wishing to contribute through the Internet Web site may do so at wecare. chipin.com/ramospetner-family.

The fire that took Kaylee’s life was reported by the girl’s mother, according to Freehold Borough police Lt. Mark Wodell.

Wodell said police officers arrived at the residence at 3:28 a.m. Feb. 2 and found Kaylee’s mother, Gina, and her two younger daughters outside the house. They were screaming that Kaylee was still inside the home on the third floor, he said.

Wodell said that at the time of the police officers’ arrival, the fire was blazing on one side of the home.

“Sgt. Craig Dispensa and police officers Rich Ciampa, Zandra Vega and Richard Schwerthoffer arrived on the scene in seconds and attempted to make entry into the home, but only got several feet inside when they were forced back by the heavy fire and the heat,” Wodell said.

Freehold Borough police Detective Timothy Jablonski was also at the scene. Members of the Freehold Fire Department and the East Freehold Fire Company, Freehold Township, attempted to make entry into the home, but were unsuccessful, according to Wodell.

He said the Freehold First Aid and Emergency Squad was also on the scene, while members of the Englishtown Fire Department stood by to take any calls while Freehold Borough firefighters were fighting the fire.

Freehold Borough Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth O’Connell said Kaylee was a sixth-grader at the Freehold Intermediate School.

The superintendent said she heard about the fire at 5:30 a.m. and put support services, including grief counseling, in place to help students as they arrived at school that morning and learned what had happened to Kaylee.

O’Connell said the Freehold Intermediate School PTO is collecting gifts, money and clothing for the family. Donations may be dropped off at the school, Park Avenue.

The Freehold Learning Center elementary school PTO is also collecting gifts, money and clothing for the family. Donations may be dropped off at the school, Dutch Lane Road. Kaylee’s sister, Julianne, attends the Freehold Learning Center.

Members of the Borough Council expressed their condolences to the family during their Feb. 2 meeting.

Councilwoman Sharon Shutzer, who serves as the town’s fire commissioner, noted the effort of those who responded to the emergency, saying, “Our police responded in six seconds. Our police and firefighters were there for 12 hours and did not leave until 3 p.m. This is not an easy job for our volunteers and we profoundly appreciate their presence.”

Council President Marc Le Vine expressed sympathy for the loss of a child.

“We are greatly moved by the outpouring of care and concern coming from every corner of our town. I am sure that all our fellow council members received a similar number of phone calls from residents, business people and fraternal groups offering housing, furniture, clothing, toys, food and monetary donations to help out the family,” Le Vine said.

“It pleased us to know we live in a terrific community and among so many people who care about their neighbors and are there for one another in times of need,” he said.

Kaylee Ann Ramos was born in Freehold Township and was a member of the Junior Girl Scouts. She was a student at St. Gabriel’s Church C.C.D. program and a karate student at Art Beins Karate Center.

In addition to her mother, Gina Petner Ramos, and three sisters, Kaylee is also survived by her father, Richard Wayne Ramos, of Forked River; two step-sisters, Chrystal and Alexis De Ceglia; her grandparents, Stanley and Renee Petner and Gene and Patricia Ramos; and her great-grandparents, Grace and Joseph Berdin.

Funeral arrangements were under the direction of the Higgins Memorial Home, Freehold. A funeral service was held at St. Gabriel’s Church, Marlboro, on Feb. 6, followed by interment at Old Tennent Cemetery, Manalapan.