Family moves into new home after losing loved one in fire: 'He's not gone. He just moved on.' | WHEC.com

Family moves into new home after losing loved one in fire: 'He's not gone. He just moved on.'

Stephanie Duprey
Created: June 09, 2021 11:10 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A family that lost everything, including a loved one, after a fire ripped through their Hague Street home last week moved into their new home Wednesday afternoon. 

The family tells News10NBC that they're at a loss for words. Jessica Higgins, the mother of the household, held back tears explaining how grateful her family is to be given a second chance while trying to fill a void after losing her young son. 

"He's not gone, he just moved on," Higgins said. "He went to heaven before we were ready.”

Higgins and her family are still mourning the loss of 12-year-old Christopher Higgins-Maldonado after destroyed their home last week. The family started to pick up the pieces and moved into their new home Wednesday. 

“Those who have come to our aid, those who don't know us, those who knew of us, we wanted to take the time to thank all who are there and have been there for us,” Higgins said in an emotional interview with News10NBC's Stephanie Duprey inside her new home.

Higgins's landlords took the initiative to create hope for her family. Her previous and new property managers were there to help every step of the way. 

News10NBC spoke to the previous landlord, Kelly Gangemi, who said no family should endure the pain like this family has. That’s why she wanted to do anything she could for them. Also holding back tears, Gangemi says they always had their rent paid weeks before it was due, and that they are always a pleasure to be around.

"It just takes certain types of people to come together like this," Gangemi said. "Random people, my kids, friends and family, and everyone just started reaching out saying what do they need.”

Crystal Helfer, the family's new property manager, says she didn’t know the family personally, but when Gangemi approached her with the idea to place a displaced family, she was more than ready to get to work

"I've never met them," Helfer said. "I didn't know the little boy, but we're giving them everything we possibly can. We’re giving them that 150%.”

Strangers stopped by throughout the day, bringing furniture, toys, and food. The kids showed off their new bedrooms and belongings. 

Nathaniel Maldonado, one of Christopher Higgins-Maldonado's brothers, said he wants to help save people when he grows up. He also shared his favorite memory with his brother.

"Saving people, helping people," Maldonado said. "He always closed the door and opened the door in my room."


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