Hours after firefighters extinguished a blaze at a Far South Side house Saturday morning, officials found the lifeless body of a young boy next to a dog.
Earlier, crews had rescued a 66-year-old woman from the home, but were unaware of the boy in the attic.
“They overlooked him, they missed him,” said an uncle, Oliver Coleman, his voice cracking with emotion.
Relatives identified the boy as Omariontae Tucker, 7. He was found in the crawl space of an unfinished attic in the 10700 block of South Prairie Avenue with the body of a dog next to him, Fire Media Affairs spokesman Kevin MacGregor said. An autopsy Sunday found the boy died of carbon monoxide intoxication from inhalation of smoke and soot and his death was ruled an accident, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
“He was all the way up in the eaves, right along the gutter line near the window,” MacGregor said. “Maybe he was trying to find a way out. It certainly was an unusual position to find the little guy, very unfortunate.”
Firefighters removed another dog from the house, but were unable to revive it.
The boy lived with his mother and grandmother in the home, relatives said. The rescued woman was the grandmother, they said.
Omariontae’s family said he was a lively second-grader who attended a charter school.
He loved to walk Coleman’s mother’s dog, a Shih Tzu.
“He was a good kid, into his video games,” Coleman said. “We’re having a very hard time with this.”
The fire started in the basement and raced up the exterior walls, officials said. The cause is under investigation.
Firefighters responded to the blaze at about 9:45 a.m., searched the house and rescued the unresponsive 66-year-old woman on the first floor.
At about 1 p.m., investigators at the scene were notified someone else might be in the house, a police spokesman said. Office of Fire Investigations officials found the boy, MacGregor said.
The woman suffered serious smoke inhalation. She was in critical-to-serious condition at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, officials said.
On Saturday night, a group of Omariontae’s relatives gathered outside the 1½-story home in the Roseland neighborhood as workers boarded up its broken windows.
The family members stood in a prayer circle around a candle and red balloons, quietly remembering the boy.
Then one of them wailed: “He didn’t have to go this way!”