Honduran children

Pictured from left, Nainalee López; Heilyn Mejía; Naziyah Fernández and Nomar López. Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Miranda Perry via GoFundMe 

A funeral will be held this Saturday, Jan. 11 for four Honduran children who died in a house fire in Miami last week, said Félix López, an uncle of the children.

“Loving, beautiful and smart,” are just some of the words Christopher Fernández, another uncle of the children, used to describe his nieces and nephews to The Miami Times.

On Dec. 29, Fernández recalled visiting the home of his 57-year-old mother, Norma Bonilla, who lived with her four grandchildren and her daughter, Jasmine López.

Jasmine López was the mother of three of the children living in the home. The fourth child living in the home was the children’s cousin and daughter of relatives Jamie Propst and Sylvia Ávila-Propst.

“We were all hanging out as a family and discussing plans for New Year’s,” Fernández said.

That day, he remembers talking about taking a family trip to Orlando to celebrate the new year with friends and family from there.

The 32-year-old didn’t know it at the time, but the family’s plans for New Year’s would be broken after the tragedy that would soon follow.

In fact, Dec. 29 would sadly be the last day Fernández saw his nieces and nephews alive.

On that Thursday, Miami Police responded to reports of a house fire just before noon at 3621 NW 18th Terrace with Miami Fire Rescue, Miami Police Public Information Officer Kiara Delva said. The four children at the residence were transported to Jackson Hospital.

Three of the children, siblings, Nomar López, 8, Nainalee López, 6, and infant Naziyah Fernández, 1, were declared dead at the hospital that day. Days later, the fourth child and siblings’ 11-year-old cousin, Heilyn Mejía died.

Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner director of operations Darren Caprara, said the children’s death by “smoke inhalation” was an accident.

Miami Police and Fire Rescue have not yet determined the cause of the fire, and the investigation is still ongoing, Delva said.

The brother of Jasmine López and one of the children’s uncles, Félix López, currently lives in Honduras. While he was able to get a visa to enter the U.S. to attend the funeral in Miami, he said he and his family can’t afford the cost of travel.

Fernández did not wish to disclose any information of the children’s funeral for the sake of privacy.

He mentioned that the three older children were students enrolled in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Nainalee and Nomar both attended BridgePrep Academy. Their cousin Heilyn went to SLAM charter school.

The school board has yet to release any statement regarding the children’s deaths.

As of now, Fernández said that his mother and sister are staying with him, and they all continue to grieve their loss. The house where the fire occurred has since been boarded up as authorities continue to investigate, he said.

The family has reached out to the public for their support and are accepting donations to help with funeral costs.

A GoFundMe fundraiser was created a week ago by family member, Jocelyn Miranda-Perry, which has since garnered just more than $30,000. Perry listed Heilyn’s mother as the fundraiser’s beneficiary.

On Jan. 4, Perry made a Facebook post indicating the fundraiser’s goal was met and extended her gratitude to those who contributed.

emane@miamitimesonline.com

Eman Elshahawy joined The Miami Times in November 2019 as the multimedia content producer. Eman graduated from the University of Florida in Summer 2019, where she earned a B.S. in journalism from UF's College of Journalism and Communications.

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