Hundreds mourn father and daughter killed in house fire

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Heavy hearts on the Freeman High School campus where hundreds mourned the tragic loss of a father and daughter.

15-year-old Jessica Harvey and her dad, 49-year-old James Harvey, died overnight Wednesday after becoming trapped in their burning home. For the first time, we hear from Jessica's twin sister, who survived the fire.

Close to three hundred people huddled around Jamie Harvey. Many of them offering words of comfort and support.

In one fell swoop, Jamie Harvey lost her best friend--- her twin sister--- and the man who mourners say lived for both girls--- their father. The enormity of that reality was felt in Jamie's trembling voice.

"You guys all meant something to her in some way. Thank you guys," said Jamie Harvey to mourners.

The colors blue and pink were prominent on this cold night. The colors favored by James and Jessica Harvey.

The two died together trying to put out a mattress fire sparked by a blow dryer. At one point, the only sounds at this vigil, were whimpers from within the crowd. Many touched in some way by lives taken too soon.

"Your sister is one of the greatest people I've ever met and there are over 100 people standing out here who know and feel the exact same way I do," said Kenedey Siler, who went to school with the twins.

Siler met Jessica just this year. But memories of her will last a lifetime.

"I would get text messages of, 'How are you doing?', 'We miss you', 'I love you', 'Can't wait to see you.' Jessie was one of those people where she could warm your heart whatever you did, whenever you saw her," said Siler.

"I just wish Jessie would come back right now because I would love to hug her just as much as I would hug Jamie," said Josh Piercy, another friend and classmate.

Mourners left behind teddy bears, flowers and notes for Jamie. Balloons in her sister and father's memory floated into the darkness. Siler made sure Jamie knew she wouldn't go through this unimaginable heartache alone.

"You're going to get through it I promise. It's going to be hard at first you're going to get through it," said Siler.

Grief counselors will be made available at Freeman High on Monday when students return from the holidays. 

James Harvey's elderly mother, who was rescued from the burning home, is in critical but stable condition. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced for Jessica and James Harvey.

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