Dozens in a Texas community gathered for a vigil to remember four children who died after breathing in a toxic gas that was accidentally released into their Northeast Amarillo home.
The Balderas children, ranging in age from 7 to 17, died on Monday and their parents and four siblings have been hospitalized since the incident. At least 100 people gathered near the family’s home to mourn the deaths.
“There was a lot of love in that family and still is,” Nichole Wells told KFDA on Monday. “They’ll wave, they’re polite, they’re respectful. They were just such a great family, and they really know what it was to be a family. That’s for sure.”
The deceased are: Felipe, 7; Josue, 11; Johnnie, 9 and 17-year-old Yasmeen Balderas, Justice of the Peace Gary L. Jackson tells PEOPLE.
Officials said someone sprayed a pesticide to kill mice under the home and later tried to wash it away with water. This combination caused a dangerous chemical reaction that created the deadly phosphine gas that the children lived with for an unknown number of days, according to a statement from the Amarillo Fire Department obtained by PEOPLE.
Source: Yasmeen Balderas/Facebook
Authorities responded to a call related to carbon monoxide poisoning at around 5 a.m. They arrived to find Felipe unresponsive and unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the child, KVII reports. He died at the scene.
The other three children died later at the hospital, according to KVII.
Their mother, Martha, was taken to Lubbock’s University Medical Center where she was listed in critical condition, Amarillo Globe-News reports. Their father, Peter, along with their four siblings were in stable condition on Monday.
“They’re a good family,” neighbor James Compton told the publication. “They were very family oriented and took care of their family. The whole family is friendly.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help cover funeral costs for the family.
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“The kids are taking it as well as they can,” an update on the fundraiser reads. “One of them isn’t allowed to eat yet due to lingering effects but the younger two are eating and responding well.”
An update posted early on Tuesday noted that Martha was not awake, but “responded to questions last night by hand squeezing.”
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