Couple married 63 years die in house fire after husband refused to leave injured wife's side
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Featured Image Credit: Fox 2 Now/ KSDK News
An elderly Missouri couple have died in the most tragic of circumstances.
The family of Kenneth and Phyllis Zerr, who were both 84 and had been married for 63 years, are mourning this week after the couple died in a house fire on Thursday 10 November.
Early reports suggest Kenneth refused to leave his beloved wife's side after she suffered a fall in the bathroom and stayed with her until the end.
Speaking outside his parents’ home, Andy Zerr fought off tears as he opened up about his beloved mum and dad, even going into detail about their final moments.
Speaking to 5 On Your Side, Andy explained that his dad refused to leave the burning house without his mum, despite the advice of fire services.
“The dispatch was on the phone with my father and my father was trying to help my mother out of the house and they got trapped,” Zerr said.
“The dispatch told my father to come out of the house and my father said, 'I'm not leaving my wife' and stayed with her. Until the end.”
The New Melle Fire Protection District said on Thursday that a basement appliance is likely what started the fire, but investigations are ongoing.
Officials added that flames came up through the home’s bottom floor and climbed up to the upstairs bedrooms.
When fire crew members made their way upstairs, the floor started to collapse and the couple became trapped.
Kenneth and Phyllis were dearly loved by their three children, several grandchildren, and their large number of family and friends.
Andy also shared that his parents were ‘deeply rooted’ in their local community and church and said he and his family spent pretty much every holiday at his parents’ home.
He said: “Everybody wanted to be like them and everybody wanted to be with them. My mom and dad were salt of the earth. They will be dearly missed. They were a pillar of the community. They were our rocks. They were our foundation. They were our wisdom."
UNILAD has approached the New Melle Fire Protection District for further comment.
Speaking to STL Today, Kenneth and Phyllis’s granddaughter Ashley Kozlowski said: “He’d rather stay with her than save his own life.”
The outlet reports that Phyllis had fallen over in the bathroom and couldn’t get up.
Instead of exiting the bathroom upon emergency dispatchers’ instructions, Kenneth ‘stuffed wet towels under the door and hoped firefighters would get there in time’.
Tragically, because the house was full of ‘thick, black smoke’, by the time firefighters found the bathroom, it was too late to save Kenneth and Phyllis.
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