(People): “What I will miss is just seeing them grow into these amazing human beings that I knew that they would be,” Jackie Pham Nguyen said of losing her kids
The Texas woman who lost her three children and mother in a house fire during Winter Storm Uri is speaking out about her heartbreak following the tragedy.
Jackie Pham Nguyen said she doesn’t remember much about the Feb. 16 incident that killed her mother, Loan Le, and her three children, Olivia, 11, Edison, 8, and Colette, 5.
“I tucked my kids into bed and gave my mom a kiss that night and headed down to my room,” Nguyen, 41, recalled to CNN. “The next thing I know, I woke up in the hospital without my kids and waited several hours later, only to find out that I had lost everything.”
Though she’s been leaning on friends and family in the wake of the tragedy, Nguyen told the Houston Chronicle that her days have been a struggle.
“You feel like you’re drowning and you feel like you just can’t breathe,” she said. “But the acts of those who’ve helped — even the kind words here and there — have been like going up for air.”
Prior to the fatal incident, Nguyen said her kids were “so excited” about the snowfall in their Houston suburb of Sugar Land.
“My son Edison, he’s an early riser, so he kind of got to benefit from the fresh snow first… and shortly after, his sisters joined,” she shared. “It was magical, and I knew all this was kind of going on around us in Houston, but… we didn’t feel like at all we were in the middle of something going on in the city.”
Around 5 p.m., the lights in their house went out. Nguyen noted to CNN that the power outage “didn’t faze us too much,” as her family often played with board games and cards.
To keep warm amid the storm, Nguyen said she made a fire in their fireplace — something that wasn’t out of the ordinary for her.
The mom of three also asked her family to “conserve their batteries and devices,” as it was unclear when the power would return.
“We were all huddled around each other and layered up and had the fire going,” she explained to the outlet, adding that, “Olivia begged me to join a Zoom call with her camp friends that night, and I’m really glad in hindsight that I let her have that call with them.”By 10 p.m., Nguyen said the family got tired and said their “goodnights” before heading to bed. The fire broke out just a few hours later.
Doug Adolph, a spokesperson with the Sugar Land Fire Department, confirmed to the Houston Chronicle that they responded to a 2 a.m. call of a house fire on Vista Lake Drive, where firefighters found the residence engulfed in flames.
The cause of the fire still remains under investigation, but Adolph noted at the time that the family was relying on the fireplace to “stay warm” during the frigid temperatures and that the entire house was lost in the blaze.
Though details of the fire still remain uncertain, Nguyen said she’s finding comfort in remembering her children and mom.
“My darling Olivia, my first born… she loved to claim the fact that she’s the one that made me a mom,” Nguyen told CNN of her eldest daughter. “She was meek but just so, so strong. There’s so much depth to her.”
“I just knew she was just going to be this amazing human being that was going to contribute so much to the world,” she added to the Houston Chronicle. “I feel not just a sense of loss for my daughter, but a sense of loss for the world and for society, that she didn’t get a chance to do something meaningful with her life.”