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Sister Loses Her Twin in Ocean Isle Beach Fire

Posted October 30, 2007
Updated October 31, 2007

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— Four college students killed in an Ocean Isle Beach house fire early Sunday morning were from upstate South Carolina.

Travis Lane Cale, 19;  Justin Michael Anderson, 19; Lauren Astrid Kristiana Mahon, 18 -- attended the University of South Carolina. Emily Lauren Yelton, 18, was a student at Clemson University. Yelton's death has been especially difficult for her identical twin-sister, Meredith.

“Half of me is gone. The only person I want to talk to is her,” Meredith said.

Yelton's parents said Tuesday night the tremendous loss they have suffered hasn't sunk in yet.

“It's like God put up a shield. We don't feel it yet,” mother Kim Yelton said.

Emily followed her high school sweetheart Travis to Ocean Isle Beach for a weekend retreat.

“I was having a difficult time yesterday and it was good to know they were together,” Meredith said.

Emily and Travis spent the early hours of Sunday morning hanging out with 11 friends at 1 Scotland St. They were asleep when a fire started just before 7 a.m.

Ocean Isle Beach firefighters were on the scene within minutes, but the house was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived. Seven college students were killed; six managed to escape.

The Yelton family said they found some comfort hearing from the medical examiner that each victim likely died in their sleep.

“She knows we loved her. We were really close,” said Kim Yelton.

Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith said investigators believe the fire was probably accidental.

Also killed in the fire were Cassidy Pendley, 18, of Charleston, S.C.; William Rhea, 18, of Florence, S.C.; and Allison Walden, 19, of Chagrin Falls, O.H.

Many of the 13 students at the house were members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and Delta Delta Delta sorority.

Clemson University has scheduled a prayer vigil Wednesday night. People were asked to wear white ribbons in honor of the fire victims.

At the University of South Carolina, students have been leaving flowers, hand-written notes and stuffed animals at a memorial.


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  • Made In USA Oct 31, 2007

    Chances are good that someone within the circle of family and friends will be reading these comments. I beg you all to lay aside the stone-throwing and post your kind and comforting thoughts as many have. What I would like to say is that one needs to remember what Jesus said to the thief just before they both died on the cross, "Today you will be with me in paradise". Those things seen by the eye are temporary. The things that the eye cannot see are eternal. I pray that the good Lord will reach down out of the Heavens and touch the hearts of their families and friends with great joy in knowing that their loved ones are indeed very much alive in the presence of God. Their newfound happiness cannot be measured in it's greatness here on this earth. God bless the families and their friends.

  • Sandollar Oct 31, 2007

    Cruel people still exist. Things would be better if they thought less of self. It seems no one (or few) believe in a higher power. Compassion is dead, too.

    My prayers are for the families and suvivors and may they heal with God's help and grace.

  • b-man Oct 31, 2007

    Puredoller do you have children. Do you think they want to hear that if its true or not?!!! How dare you question or try to make the families and friends feel any worst than they already do.

  • Broker - Back from Lurking Oct 31, 2007

    well-said, Rev.

  • Weetie Oct 31, 2007

    My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these young people. This is so very sad.

  • JennaRink Oct 31, 2007

    taylor92 - Grow up; my son was in a foreign country fighting for YOUR rights at 18...as much as I'd like to keep him at home forever, they're not children anymore once they've finished high school. They have to be given a chance to live...

    puredoller - Way to go with helping the families to cope! I think we all know those things, and they could've been left unsaid...

    This incident has really bothered me. It's been a constant in my mind since I first heard about it. My prayers go out to all involved...

  • Adelinthe Oct 31, 2007

    Ya know, looking for someone to place the blame on with suppositions and gossipping just doesn't have any value.

    What is valuable is the loss of these lives and the very real pain now being endured by those who loved and lost them.

    Lives is what matters, not blame based upon guesses.

    Praying for God to comfort those who loved these children.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Groovy Oct 31, 2007

    puredoller - although i appreciate your comment, i think you probably could have left those last two sentences off of your post- at least for those of us out there they have lost a loved one due to a fire.

  • luvwhljr.neways Oct 31, 2007

    taylor92, did you go away to college? are your kids in college? you must shelter them. They will be the ones that sneak around and get in all grades of trouble. Then you will want to sue someone because you never allowed your kids the oportunity to grow up, with a little freedom (if you have a girl, God help when she gets away from all the hovering). I can sleep right through an alarm clock, unless it is playing music. Some people just sleep hard. They could have been drinking, but the poison in the air, from the smoke and fire, probably got to these kids first. God Bless Each and Everyone this horrid event has had an effect on.

  • elliemae Oct 31, 2007

    Pike Queen - Amen.