Woman who lost grandson saving lives with smoke detectors

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Messenger photo by Dianne Garrett
Audrey Watts (right) received the first free smoke detector installed by volunteers accompanying Carolyn Syx (left) canvassing east Columbus neighborhoods June 23. Syx’s only grandchild perished in a mobile home fire April 9, 2005. Her goal is assure that no one else loses a life in a home without smoke detectors. The group are members of Christ United Methodist Church.

There were no smoke detectors, and by the time the fire awakened Mia, it was too intense for her to save her son sleeping at the opposite end of the home. Tyler died of smoke inhalation.

The grandmother was devastated by her loss, but determined to make an effort to avoid such a tragedy for another family. She has become driven by the memory of the child she describes as a thoughtful, affectionate boy.

"I don’t want to see another person die because there was no smoke detector in the home. I miss him so much, and is the only grandchild I will ever have," Syx said.

Syx enlisted the assistance of her fellow members at Christ United Methodist Church on Zettler Road. Earlier in the year they hosted a fundraising spaghetti dinner to purchase smoke detectors for anyone who needed one in the area.

Twenty volunteers gathered on June 23, and took the streets canvassing the neighborhood armed with the life saving devices.

Audrey Watts received the first installation. Her daughter, who was a young mother herself, died this month due to an ailment, not fire related. The two women shared in each other’s grief and joys of parenting and grandparenting.

Watts shared that when she was a teen, she escaped a house fire from the third floor. There were no smoke detectors, and fortunately, everyone got out safely, but she agreed that they all would have got out sooner had they been alerted.

"I think what Carolyn is doing is wonderful! I’m appreciative for her gift. If one or two lives can be saved, then it is worth it," Watts said.

Anyone who would like to donate funds or smoke detectors to be given free of charge to those in need, or anyone needing a smoke detector, can call the church office at 231-4568.

Syx and her group are planning another neighborhood canvass during fire prevention week in October.

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