QUAKERTOWN, PA – Members of the community rallied in support of a local mother and son after her husband and two sons died in a house fire early on Christmas morning.
Several fire crews arrived at the twin home of Eric and Kristin King on Essex Court near Broad Street shortly before 1.30am on Christmas Day.
Kristin and her son Brady, an eighth grader, were able to escape the house and were treated for burns and smoke inhalation at a nearby hospital. But Eric King, 41, and his sons Liam, a fifth grader, and Patrick, a third grader, were found dead after firefighters brought the blaze under control around 2.30am.
Quakertown Borough Police Chief Scott McElree said authorities believe the fire may have started with the lighting of the family’s Christmas tree, following lights on the tree.
A GoFundMe for the Kings has since raised $608,970 in just two days, receiving over 9,000 donations. Family friend Kristin Randazzo, who started the fundraiser, has now shut it down, though another is still posted on the website Give in kind and she said more supporters would follow.
“On behalf of the King family, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who texted, emailed, messaged, called and donated,” Randazzo wrote. “We have come together as a community and a nation – yes, this has reached a national level – to support an amazing family. We have reached our goal over 30 times! … Kristin and Brady are overwhelmed with the amount of support they have .”
Bill Harner, the superintendent of the Quakertown Central School District, wrote with “unbearable sadness” to families at the schools on Saturday, to share the news and offer his condolences.
“This news is devastating to the school district community and the Quakertown area as a whole,” he wrote. “Eric and Kristin and their boys are very active in our community. The school district sends its deepest condolences to the King family and their many friends and relatives.”
Harner said the district’s Crisis Response Team and the Bucks County Intermediate Unit have met to put in place a suite of supports for students, parents, staff and faculty, at from Sunday until the reopening of the school on January 4th.
“You are not alone,” he wrote.
The neighborhood creates a resource pagewhich includes call and text lines, a list of coping skills specific to grief and trauma, and books on loss that might help community members.
“We are truly blessed to be part of a wonderful community rich in faith, hope and love,” Harner wrote. “It is certainly a day to remember these blessings and a time to hug those we love.”
Friends recalled that the Kings were an active family in the community, spending days and nights working with the Quakertown Youth Baseball Association.
Randazzo wrote that “you couldn’t help but love them”.