Deputy Coroner: Two children burned to death in Nineveh apartment fire


A mother is still fighting for her life after losing two of her children in a Johnson County house fire Friday evening in Nineveh.

Sirena Slusher Abbott, 29, is in critical condition at Wishard Hospital after she tried to save her 6-month-old son and 18-month-old daughter after their upstairs apartment caught on fire.

The Johnson County Deputy Coroner said John Ryan Abbott and Hailey Lynn Abbott died in Friday's fire after they were trapped inside.

"I've never seen anything just erupt in flames like that," said Jaqueline Brown, through tears.

It's the most helpless Brown said she's ever felt in her life.

She watching her neighbor's Nineveh home go up in flames, realizing, even more helpless than she, were the two babies trapped inside the inferno in front of her.

Their mother, Sirena Slusher Abbott, was standing outside the home burned and dazed.

"I said, 'Where's the babies?' and she said, 'They're in the living room.' So then I just started screaming for help. Someone come and help us," Brown recalled.

By then, it was too late. The young children were trapped in the family's upstairs apartment. Only their mother and older sister, five-year-old Alexandria, had escaped.

The little girl, who investigators said has severe autism, ran to Brown's home while her mother tried to save her younger siblings.

"Ali came knocking on my door, saying that her house was on fire and I looked out the door window and I saw smoke," recalled Brown.

Brown tried to help. There was nothing she could do.

"I went up like three steps and there was flames just coming out of the living room, so I backed out and I looked over and saw Sirena and she was just covered, like her hair was burnt and she was covered in black," said Brown.

Brown said she remembers just screaming.

"Somebody get the babies out!" she recalled shouting. "I mean, I was...I just wanted them out and I was...I got too scared to go up the stairs. I backed out. I mean, it was already...the living room was already engulfed and I mean Sirena couldn't go back in."

Others tried, too. It was no use.

"Some guy tried to climb up the back pole and go in that way, but the babies were in the living room," Brown remembered.

Even fire crews with all of their equipment were helpless to save the little ones inside. Hours later, many worked through the night, recovering both babies by early morning.

The Indiana State Fire Marshal is still searching for a cause.

Funeral arrangements for the two children are pending with Jessen Funeral Home in Whiteland.

Donations of furniture, clothes or toys to help five-year-old Alexandria can be made to The Crossing Church at 8728 S. Nineveh Road, Princes Lakes, IN 46164.