55ºF

Boy found dead in St. Augustine home destroyed by fire

Cause of fire, 11-year-old boy's death under investigation

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A devastated family in St. Augustine is coping with the loss of their 11-year-old boy in a house fire Tuesday night.

David Taylor's mother and 18-year-old sister managed to escape the fire, but firefighters found the boy's body inside.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, according to St. Johns County Fire Rescue. 

Firefighters were sent to the home on Lee Street not far from 4 Mile Road just before 10 p.m. According to spokesperson Jeremy Robshaw, firefighters found the single-story house fully engulfed in flames.

"The smoke alarms went off and they got out of bed and they went into the living room and it was pitch black," David's uncle, Mark Hall, said. "The lights weren’t on and the smoke and they couldn’t get out the front door, so they went through the side window of the bedroom and they knocked the window out."

They immediately entered the home and found David's body. 

"All I know is they were all getting out, they went through a side window and she turned around and he wasn’t there. So he went back in to get the dog, and you know probably breathed smoke in and passed out," Hall said. 

Other family members said the dog was out of the house and they weren't sure why David went back inside.

According to Fire Rescue, the fire was brought under control with help from the St. Augustine Fire Department.

A St. Johns County school spokeswoman said David was in the sixth grade at R.J. Murray Middle School Grief counselors were available the school Wednesday for anyone who wanted to talk.

David loved football and played on his school's team.

"He was just a bright kid, played around, joked around, loved basketball," Hall said. "Unfortunately, he is gone now."

This isn't the family's first tragedy. Five years ago, the family's daughter drowned. 

A Department of Children and Families report show 10-year-old Natalie Taylor, who had cerebral palsy, drowned after being left unattended in a bathtub. The report says the oldest sibling, who was 12 years old at the time, was babysitting her sister and David, who was 6, while their mother was at work and their father was on a hunting trip in Georgia.

News4Jax learned DCF had 16 contacts with the family before the 2013 drowning. Some of those complaints were valid, others unfounded. The department sent its findings to the State Attorney's Office, which did not file any charges in the girl's death.

"It just keeps tumbling down and I don’t think (David's mother) is going to make it through this," Hall said. "Not a second child. She only has one left and she is 18."

Heather Anderson has lived on Lee Street for several years and was heartbroken to hear about her neighbors' tragedy.

"We had a pounding at our door and they were saying 'fire, fire'. It was our neighbors across the street. My husband ran out. He was trying to look around the perimeter of the house (to see) if someone was inside. And I call 911," Anderson said.

Loved ones spending Wednesday afternoon salvaging anything that was left behind. The family carried stacks of clothes and hunting gear from the house.

Natalie Howell has been friends with David’s older sister for several years.

"I walked over here and she ran over to me and hugged me," Howell said. "I was like, 'Are you OK,' and she was like, 'No. I want my brother.' I just cannot imagine like what she’s going through."


About the Authors: