Indianapolis vacationers raise questions about deadly Tennessee fire
Firefighters and investigators are still searching for the remains of a five-year-old boy from Indianapolis who authorities say died after a fire burned a Tennessee cabin to the ground.
The child's step-grandfather died from injuries he received while trying to rescue his family from the house located near Gatlinburg in Sevierville, Tennessee.
An autopsy on 56-year-old Ricky Hudson is set for Monday. However, there's been no sign of five-year-old Tyveon Temple.
They were part of a group of more than 20 family friends from Indianapolis and Louisville staying in the rental at Cabins at the Crossing, a vacation resort near Pigeon Forge, when it caught fire early Saturday.
Hudson's pastor drove a bus from Indianapolis to the Smokey Mountains to bring the group back home.
Fire investigators say there's no indication of a possible cause for the blaze, but one survivor is telling WTHR a much different story. The vacationers say the fire could be suspicious, and that the victims never had a chance.
Sometime after 4:00 am Saturday, the family was alerted to fire. 13 Investigates has learned there was just one entrance - the front door - and it was blocked by flames.
Dexter Turner, who escaped, told 13 Investigates by phone today: "It was a death trap."
Turner's best friend, 56-year old Ricky Hudson of Indianapolis, died from apparent blood loss from lacerations after busting out glass to help toss children three stories down into the arms of others.
13 Investigates has also learned there are more troubling questions. What caused the fire and how two passenger vans and a Dodge Charger, all belonging to the families in that one rental, burned. The vehicles were in a parking lot some feet from the cabin.
Investigators from the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Squad are on the scene.
"It's not unusual for any fire to raise red flags," said Joe Hogsett, US attorney, Indiana southern district.
Hogsett can't talk specifically about Tennessee case, but tells 13 Investigates the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol Fire Tobacco and Explosives are often asked to take over arson investigations if large insurance amounts are involved for property owners or if there is suspicion of hate crimes and civil rights violations.
"If there is any evidence that a hate crime has been committed, or any kind of motivation...meant to intimidate, harass, threaten, or otherwise injure individuals on the bases of race, sex, color, national origin, sexual orientation, the FBI is almost immediately involved in that," said Hogsett.
A spokesman for Sevier County has said there is nothing suspicious about the fire. But family members are raising lots of questions, saying they don't want this to happen to any other family.
The Tennessee State Fire Marshal's Office, the Sevier County Fire Investigation Unit and the University of Tennessee Regional Forensic Center are also part of this ongoing investigation.