Community Mourns Tragic Death of Two Young Children

Community Mourns Tragic Death of Two Young Children

Fire destroys their home in Little Rocky Run.

Firefighters spraying water inside the house to quell the flames. Photo Courtesy of Frank Rivera

Firefighters spraying water inside the house to quell the flames. Photo Courtesy of Frank Rivera

In today’s polarized world, people are often divided about many things. But after a devastating fire last week destroyed a family’s home in Little Rocky Run and sent two young children to the hospital in critical condition, people far and wide came together to pray for them.

The boys, William, 6, and Zachariah, 3, were trapped upstairs by the flames and were rescued by firefighters. They weren’t burned; but the heavy smoke filled their lungs, preventing oxygen from reaching their brains. Paramedics performed CPR on each child for at least 45 minutes before they were airlifted to Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.

The next day their dad, Jamey Brice, updated friends and family members on the boys’ condition, on Facebook, and urgently beseeched them all to pray for his children. “Everyone please pray immediately!” he wrote. 

“We were told this afternoon that both William and Zachariah have symptoms consistent with brain death. It is not the final prognosis, and they will both be further tested. This is mission critical now, and the only thing we ask is to pray and get everyone you know to pray. We don’t want any money, items or clothes. We just want our boys.”

Tragically, however, after two tests confirmed neither boy had any brain activity, they were removed from life support on Sunday and succumbed to their injuries. Monday morning, their parents wrote the most agonizing post of their lives:

“We are devastated by these horrific events and heartbroken that we lost our amazing sons. We have peace in knowing they are both with Jesus and have heard, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ We also have peace knowing that we got more days with them on earth, as we learned they should have been lost in the fire that day.

“Our heart aches because we want them here. But we have a strong hope knowing that we will see them again and will do our best to share their legacy of love, joy and encouragement for everyone they met.”

The house belongs to Brice’s parents, who neighbors say have lived there for 30 years. (Although it bears a Clifton address, it’s geographically in Centreville). Jamey, a Centreville High grad, his wife Reina, and their four boys – including middle-schooler Seth, and Logan, 8 – all lived together. Seth attends Liberty Middle School, and Logan and William, Union Mill Elementary.

When the fire began, last Wednesday, April 10, Jamey was at work at Life Time Fitness in Centreville, where he’s a personal trainer. Reina was also at work and, since it was a school holiday for Eid al Fitr, she took Seth with her, while Logan, William and Zachariah stayed home with their grandparents.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue hasn’t yet revealed what caused the fire or where, specifically it began, but the two-alarm blaze on Whetstone Manor Court started around 9 a.m. According to fire officials, “Units arrived with heavy fire [showing] and reports of two trapped occupants.”

Logan had managed to escape and immediately called 911 from outside the house. Meanwhile, the grandparents tried desperately to reach the two little ones but the rapidly spreading and intense flames made it impossible. 

They, too, made it out, as did the family’s two dogs, but firefighters had to rescue William and Zachariah from the top of the stairs. Both were unconscious, and firefighter paramedics began CPR at once. In a later TV interview, Jamey Brice praised them for “not giving up and performing as many rounds of CPR as they did.”

Frank Rivera has lived across the street from the family for 28 years, and that’s where he and his wife raised their own children, who grew up with Jamey. Rivera works from home and was first alerted to the fire when he heard the sirens from the first-responding fire engines.

“I opened the door, looked out and saw the first fire engine pull up,” he said. “Two or three firefighters jumped out and ran to get a hose hooked up and quickly started spraying water on the house.” Rivera said several more firetrucks and ambulances soon arrived and attached a hose to a second hydrant to continue fighting the blaze.

“The grandmother sustained some burns and was taken out on a stretcher to the first ambulance,” he said. “Logan went with her, and the grandfather stayed. Then a few minutes later, I saw the firefighters bring the boys out. They had them on the lawn and did CPR on them for a long time. They were still doing it as they put them in the ambulance.” Afterward, they were flown to the hospital.

By then, said Rivera, more than 40 firefighters, plus fire marshals and battalion chiefs, had rushed to the scene, and many of them remained for seven or eight hours, checking for hotspots. The fire department reported the fire was fully out by 11:30 a.m. 

When Rivera later checked his Ring camera outside his own home, he said it showed smoke coming from the Brices’ house around 9:06 a.m. “Then around 9:12 a.m., you could see the flames,” he said. “There was fire everywhere. The main part of the house, on the left side, was fully engulfed in fire. I was concerned for the family.”

“We’ve seen the kids growing up, and the Brices are a great, close-knit family,” he continued. “The kids were always outside playing. I helped Jamey put up the basketball hoop so they could play basketball in their driveway. Growing up, Jamey and his friends would play football in my front yard because the side of my house had a big, open area next to the pipestem. And before they got their basketball hoop, his kids played soccer in my yard, too.”

The morning of the fire, Rivera said he initially didn’t realize the gravity of the situation. Once the grandparents got outside, he said, “They were standing there looking at the house, so I thought they were OK. I also thought the kids were in school – I didn’t realize it was a holiday.

“But the [youngest boys] were trapped on the second floor. It shocked me that they were still in the house, and it was crushing to see the firefighters bring out their limp bodies.” Later learning that William and Zachariah were still fighting for their lives, Rivera said on Saturday, “We’re hoping things work out for the best; we’ll have to wait and see.”

As word of the family tragedy spread, many churches – including Love Church in Gainesville, where the Brices regularly attend – held ’round-the-clock prayer vigils. And their relatives, friends and fellow church members flocked to the hospital, at the Brices’ invitation, to lay hands on the boys at their bedsides and fervently pray for their recovery. 

Jamey also provided updates on Facebook, continually asking for just one thing – prayers from anyone and everyone. Hundreds of people responded to each post and shared them with others. One post in particular – containing an impassioned plea from the Brices, plus photos of them sleeping with their children in their hospital beds – received 2,200 responses, more than 500 comments and was shared 1,300 times.

People’s messages were heartfelt, and nearly every one of them mentioned prayers. Jennie Bush, for example, wrote, “We’re praying for William’s and Zachariah’s healing for their little bodies and brains. We’re also praying for your family’s continued strength and perseverance and for all the doctors and nurses to provide the best possible care.”

“Your boys are so beautiful and strong,” wrote Rhya Daubert. “We are continuing to pray, and we will not stop.” 

“Through tears and a broken heart, my family and I hit our knees praying for you all,” wrote Tammie Scott. 

And Portia Bowman wrote, “Praying continuously. Please, Lord, heal these boys! There has never been a family more deserving of these prayers. They give so much love to their community, please allow us to give it back to them in answered prayers.”

Susan Culin asked people to “please pray for these little boys. They’re fighting so hard and can use everyone’s support.”

Calling the situation “heartbreaking,” Doug Crowe wrote, “My daughter, a nurse at Children’s, was on duty when they arrived and said everyone on staff is praying for these two angels.”

In response, Reina Brice wrote on Friday, “We are so overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayer, financial and physical support. We see your messages. We feel your prayers. Saying thank you could never be enough.”

How to Help the Brice Family

A family relative, Brianne Lopez of Manassas, started a GoFundMe account for the Brices. On it she wrote, “A devastating fire [led] to their home being destroyed and their two youngest children being airlifted to Children’s Hospital with severe smoke inhalation injuries.”

As of press time, 2,100 people had contributed nearly $200,000. The Website for this page is:

And while no amount of money can make up for the loss of their children, the funds will be needed to help purchase clothing and other necessities as they try to rebuild their lives.

As Lopez wrote, “Reina and her family have been an incredible source of support for anyone going through a difficult time, have always kept their doors open to anyone in need. Please share and donate, if you can, for this incredible family who needs all the help and support they can get at this time.”

In addition, Love Church in Gainesville is accepting donations of clothes, shoes, toys and other household items the Brices lost in the fire. The church office is in the Gainesville Medical Building, 14370 Lee Hwy., Suite 105. Dropoff hours are Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., via the front doors.