Children release balloons to remember classmate killed in fire - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Children release balloons to remember classmate killed in apartment fire

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STATESVILLE, NC (WBTV) -

Fourth graders in Statesville released dozens of balloons Wednesday to say goodbye to a classmate killed in a fire.

Student Katie Allen says "I never felt so sad in my life".

Firefighters pulled 9-year-old La-Reik Ramseur from his family's burning apartment just after 1 a.m. Sunday.  

La-Reik went to school at Cloverleaf Elementary, where officials decided to hold a balloon release to help his classmates cope with their feelings. 

"We just felt it would be great way to let some emotion be released" says Chris Campbell, President of the Parent Teachers Organization.

Campbell says they had about 184 black and yellow balloons - the colors of La-Reik's favorite NFL team, The Pittsburgh Steelers.

Principal Alisha Cloer says "anybody who knows him knows he loves football and the Steelers. We're trying to represent his love".

Every fourth grader and members of La-Reik's family who attended received a balloon to release.

Shanae Ramseur, La-Reik's mother, called the balloon release "amazing".

She says her son "came to me in my dreams. He says he's happy. He's good. I'm ok. So I'm ok".

Firefighters responded to the fire call at Brevard Gardens in Statesville early Sunday morning.
Statesville Fire Marshal Mike Billings says La-Reik and his 13-year-old sister were sleeping on the second floor when the fire started.

The 13-year-old survived after jumping from the second floor.

A man spotted the smoke and tried to get inside to La-Reik, but he wasn't able to find him.

Billings said the children's mother was working. Her boyfriend was staying with the children, but he told investigators he left briefly to visit friends in a nearby apartment.  

Officials with the Statesville Housing Authority said the family has temporary shelter.

Investigators have ruled the fire accidental.

Just after 1p Wednesday, the fourth graders released the balloons.

Principal Cloer says "I think it's a way for children to express maybe some goodbyes but also a tribute to him". She says "this is a precious child who influenced everyone he met - a bundle of joy. There's not a time you didn't see him in the hall he wasn't smiling, happy to be there".

La-Reik's classmate Katie says "it felt like very good to me". She says "it's like giving our souls and telling him we love him after he died".

La-Reik's mother says the balloon release will "celebrate all birthdays he's going to miss. Christmas. Everything. We're just gonna miss him".

Copyright 2012 WBTV and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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