500-Pound Teen Dies in Fire, Too Fat for Rescuers to Lift

Whether it’s Michelle Obama‘s health initiatives or programs to make school lunches more healthy, there has been an increasing focus on America’s increasing waistline and obesity epidemic.

A suburban community is realizing that there are even more consequences to being overweight than simply high blood pressure and diabetes.

According to WREX in Rockford, Ill., a fire began in a one-story home just before 4:00 a.m. Monday. The two parents, Joe and Delores Herron, escaped, but when firefighters arrived, their daughter and two foster sons, ages 10 and 11, were still trapped inside.

Firefighters were able to get the two boys out through the window, but they could not lift the girl, Jamaya, through.

Investigators say she weighed more than 500 pounds

Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia said “that [the weight] did hamper the fire department and fire rescuers from taking her out a window. They did have to bring her out the door and in doing that, two firefighters we’re actually injured.”

By then, it was too late for Jamaya.

The daughter of a pastor and a singer at the church died at the scene. Fire Chief Derek Bergsten, stated:

“They gave 110 percent, did their best and sometimes we’re not able to save everyone, but we were able to get two individuals out of that structure alive.”

Investigators say Jamaya died from breathing smoke. There will be an autopsy later this week.

Fannie Barbee, a relative of the family, says, “She was very faithful in the church. Whenever I go over there, she was a really nice person.”

This is just one more example of the adverse impact obesity is having on America’s young people. It is no longer about vanity. In addition to health consequences, there are consequences with regard to public safety. It is the community’s and the parent’s responsibility to make sure that we don’t have 500-pound teenagers. This young woman’s death is unfortunate and was probably preventable and likely so was her obesity.


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