SOUTH BEND – A third person -- a 25-year-old man -- has died from injuries received over a month ago in a fire on South Bend’s Haney Ave. that also took the lives of two young sisters.
Me’Chielle Marshall, 4, and 6-year-old Navaeh Marshall died from smoke and soot inhalation in the February 10 fire.
Firefighters also pulled 25-year-old Cordell Mahone out of the apartment’s living room where investigators said the fire started. He suffered burns and smoke inhalation and was transported to Memorial Hospital and later transferred to a burn center in Kalamazoo.
On Friday, March 15, the South Bend Fire Department announced that Mahone died in a University of Michigan burn ward.
“We just got dressed and we got out and the lady was screaming ‘Let my kids out!’” recalled Felix Bernth, who lives next door. “By that time, it was all engulfed. We couldn’t even see inside. We couldn't go in there and get the poor little kids out."
Bernth and other neighbors could only stand there, helpless at 4:30 on a Sunday morning, knowing two small children were trapped inside.
“That was pretty bad. The guy next door here, he was yelling because he couldn't help either,” Bernth added. “Two grown men, and you couldn't really do much about it, you know?”
Cheryl Worsham lives next door to the set of four apartments, which are owned by South Bend’s Housing Authority. She said the girls’ mother, who police said is 28-year-old Robin Marshall, was able to jump from a second story window with her 5-year-old daughter.
The first arriving police officer described the mother as “hysterical” in his report. He said he had to hold her back from going inside the house to try and save her 4- and 6-year-old, who were trapped in a bedroom upstairs.
“The mom was just crying that her two babies were in there, and shortly after that, we saw the fire department bringing the two children out,” Worsham said.
Firefighters said the flames were contained to the living room on the ground floor, where they found Mahone. Heavy smoke spread throughout the apartment, and there were working smoke detectors inside, said South Bend Fire Marshal Federico Rodriguez.
Marshall told police she and her daughters were staying at the home for two weeks until they found another place to live. Marshall's sister is the tenant named on the South Bend Housing Authority lease. She was out of town when the fire broke out.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.