Local News

July 3, 2014

School community grieves boys

AUSABLE FORKS — A crowd of more than 150 gathered at AuSable Forks Elementary School Wednesday evening to honor the memory of Tucker and Payden Burnham.

The pair died in a fire at their home Monday night.

Their 6-month-old sister, Raelynn, was seriously injured and is in the Burn Unit at Shriners Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Speaking to members of the Burnham family in the crowd, AuSable Forks Elementary School Principal Gigi Mason said it was hard to find the words to best describe the family’s loss and provide comfort. 

“There are no words to say to you tonight, but we’re hoping together we can help you feel there is great love and support in this community,” she said.   


Sabrina Robare, 7, a friend and classmate of 6-year-old Tucker, summed up the thoughts of the gathered mourners.

“I knew Tucker. I miss him,” she said, before clutching her mother, Rose.

As fifth- and sixth-grade teacher Tammy Forrence said, everyone at the school knew Tucker.

The comment drew knowing giggles from the crowd, and particularly from Mason, who explained that everyone has a Tucker story.

Forrence’s Tucker story involved a pack of scented markers that he had been coloring with when she took her eyes off the boy to answer a phone call.

“By the time I turned back around, Tucker had all 10 toenails, all 10 fingernails colored in purple, and I never saw it happen,” she said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

 Though Tucker’s kindergarten and first grade instructor, Daryl Johnson, was unable to attend the vigil, his wife Laael shared a statement that he had written. 

“He was rambunctious, eager to learn and most of all loving, caring and always respectful,” the statement read. “We weren’t just student, teacher anymore. We became great friends.”

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