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Mom gets probation for daughters' deaths in fire

Posted July 16, 2008

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— A Harnett County woman has been placed on probation after pleading guilty to charges stemming from a February mobile home fire that killed two of her daughters.

Echo Tonisha Simmons, 24, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of misdemeanor child abuse. She was sentenced to 16 to 19 months in prison, which was suspended, and she was placed on two years' probation and was ordered to perform community service.

Simmons' three daughters, all under 7, were alone in the family's home at the Overlook Mobile Home Park in Spout Springs on Feb. 14 when a candle and a piece of paper sparked a fire inside, authorities said.

Simmons had left the children home alone for a few minutes while she took her mother to her home about 2 miles away, authorities said. By the time she returned, the trailer was engulfed in flames.

Arianna Squires-Simmons, 3, and Kaliyah Simmons, 20 months, died in the fire. Janaya Squires, 6, escaped the fire and had to be restrained by neighbors as she tried to go back inside to save her sisters.


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  • Trublue in Wake County Jul 17, 2008

    Don Imus said it correctly when he said "well, there ya go..."

  • 1Moms_View Jul 16, 2008

    momof3inNC, I totally agree with you. She was negligent and it was her responsibility to provide safety for those children. I doubt it was the first time that the 6 year old had been left to be responsible for her younger siblings, even if mom was home. I hope the surviving child is receiving therapy to deal with what happened and the loss of her sisters. She has enough to deal with without being put back in the care of that woman.

  • familyfour Jul 16, 2008

    Parenting should be a required class to graduate high school.

    Two adults concented that it would be okay to leave 3 young children at home alone...with a candle burning, with flammable items in close proximity...

    It is true we cannot "watch" our children every moment. We do have to shower, check the mail...but to LEAVE the premises in a vehicle no less, no matter how far, with an open flame in the house, with not one child of suitable age.....

    Yes, accidents do happen. But they are certainly a lot more apt to happen to people who are oblivious of what is right in front of them. I was under the impression that the government did not consider ignorance to be an escuse from the law. Guess this proves that wrong.

    A good rule of thumb....if you can't take the kids....don't go.

  • Scarecrow Cow Jul 16, 2008

    Is anyone really suprised this happened? Too many young women are having kids with thugs who don't stick around and the children have to pay the price. They grow up in poverty with an uneducated, irresponsible mother who simply cannot properly take care of her children. She should have gotten jail time, not probation.

  • robbincasino Jul 16, 2008

    All I have to say "Is there by the grace of God go I" I too am guilty of leaving my now grown children alone for a minute while I ran across the street to check on a neighbor or out to the mail box or just to stop and talk. When I read that they were bringing her up on charges, I was mortified! Who of us has a right to judge this woman for something all of us have done at one time or the other. As for all of the folks pointing fingers, remember that while you are pointing a finger, there are 3 fingers pointing right back at you.

  • ksh33 Jul 16, 2008

    amen claudnc!

  • claudnc Jul 16, 2008

    Oh please folks - you leave your kids alone if you take a shower and leave them in the room. If you go outside to check the mail - you have left the kids alone. She will always pay for what she did - due to guilt. I care not to spend my tax dollars on locking her up. She is in her own haiteus. This was an life altering decision she made and she paid the ultimate cost... She needs to be there to take care of the child that is living because she will need all the help she can get!!!

  • ksh33 Jul 16, 2008

    momof3 -

    First, read all of the blogs. Judgment is evident (she is not grieving b/c she is not crying; her mother should have spent the night, etc....). An accident is something this was not expected or planned. No, she did not plan to have the two children she carried under her heart for 9 months to die, no she did not plan for her home to burn down, and no I am sure she did not plan to be called an unfit mother by those who have been given the permission to pass judgment. All examples of the definition of an accident. The only thing she planned was to take her mother home.

    Let me ask you this, why would the situation be different if the trailer had caught fire with her being home - her kids still would have perished. You lost me on that one.

  • daMoFo Jul 16, 2008

    Weather she feels bad or not, she should do time in prison. True this was an accident, but neglect is what allowed the accident to happen. She should do time in prison to be a greater deterrent to others contemplating the same stupid thing. If she wanted to take granny home, put the three kids in the car and take them with you.

  • ksh33 Jul 16, 2008

    there is a difference between accountability and judgment. Learn the difference. We are all accountable for out actions,no doubt, but passing judgment on a person because the decisions they made had a bad outcome is another story. We all are human and no matter how much we want to be perfect, the truth is, we all make mistakes. Maybe she didn't do the right thing, but she has to live with her decisions for the REST of her life, not one of us will have to face what she has to. Is that not enough? Who are we to pass judgment? Woe be unto the judges. Read the word, man!