Thursday 21 September 2017

Our angel: model's heartbreak after baby sister killed in fire

Tragic Gabriela with Teodora, their mum Zane and other sisters Karlina and Margarita
Tragic Gabriela with Teodora, their mum Zane and other sisters Karlina and Margarita

THE model sister of a nine-year-old girl who died in a house fire has paid tribute to her "little angel".

Gabriela Glorija Gruznova (9) perished alongside her babysitter, Philomena O'Rourke (87), when a fire tore through the home of Mrs O'Rourke at Clohass, Co Wexford.

The little girl, described as "our angel" by her family, is the sister of top Irish model, Latvian-born Teodora Sutra, who is said to have doted on her youngest sibling known as "Gabby".

A source close to the family said they were too upset to speak about the tragedy.

"They're shell-shocked," he added.

However Gabriela's sister Teodora paid tribute on behalf of the family on Facebook as she updated her cover page with an image of a little blonde girl dressed as an angel.

Zane Sutra, Gabriela's mother, and her partner Aidan O'Rourke, had left the little girl in the care of his mother, Philomena, when they went out for dinner in nearby Enniscorthy on Friday evening.

SMOKE

When they returned to the farmhouse shortly after midnight, they found the property already ablaze.

Mr O'Rourke made desperate attempts to rescue his mother and Gabriela and smashed a window in an effort to gain entry, but was beaten back by thick smoke.

He cut his arm on the broken glass, severing an artery and underwent surgery at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin. He also received treatment for smoke inhalation.

Yesterday, prayers were said for the two fire victims at Mass in Davidstown Church.

Parish priest, Fr Jim Nolan, said the community were ready to support the two families during this time of terrible sadness.

"We all commiserate with the family and relatives and pray for guidance through this terrible ordeal.

"Please God we will never have such a tragedy in the parish again and we will not be talking of such a tragedy in the foreseeable future. We as parishioners, neighbours and friends are here to help the family through their tragic loss," he added.

The Sutra family is originally from Riga in Latvia but settled in Gorey, Co Wexford, 10 years ago. Gabriela was a third class pupil at St Mary's National School in Enniscorthy.

She is survived by her mother, her sisters Teodora, Karlina, Margarita and her brother Robert.

Mrs O'Rourke, a retired teacher, was originally from Carnew, Co Wicklow, but had lived at Clohass since 1964.

Her husband Jim died 15 years ago and she is survived by her children, Aidan, Oliver, Finnola, Marette, Sharon, Karena and Aidan.

Her daughter Sharon described Mrs O'Rourke as a "brilliant" mother who was very active in her community and kept in touch with past pupils.

"Mam was a good person and everyone loved her. We're just trying to come to terms with everything," she added.

Garda forensic teams carried out a house examination on Saturday.

However, it is understood there is nothing to suggest it was suspicious. The bodies of the two victims were brought to Waterford Regional Hospital where a post-mortem was to be performed.

No funeral arrangements have been released as yet.

By Breda Heffernan and Brendan Furlong

Irish Independent

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