6-year-old survivor of fire fights for life

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Chaquan Rhodes said she's still planning a trip to Chuck E. Cheese with her little sister.

Chaquan, 16, and sister Shakiera Rouse, 6, had planned a Saturday visit to the restaurant, but that's on hold as the younger girl fights for life in the intensive care unit at the Medical College of Georgia Children's Medical Center.

Shakiera, a Dorothy Haines Elementary first-grader, has been in critical condition at MCG since a Friday night fire killed her mother, sister and a cousin.

"They say she can hear me," Chaquan said Wednesday. "I tell her every day, 'Just go ahead and get better. When you get out, we'll go wherever you want to go.' "

Chaquan said she and her family members hope that Shakiera will survive the trauma of smoke inhalation that is believed to have killed her mother, Yolanda Hankerson; a sister, Laquisha Rouse, 9; and a cousin, Zyon Nelson, 4, during a kitchen grease fire at a home on Kevin Drive.

"She doesn't look like herself right now, but I hope she hangs in there," Chaquan said. "She's hung in there this long, so I think she's going to make it."

Lt. Carlton Bradley, of the Richmond County Fire Department, said it appears the family suffered smoke inhalation after Ms. Hankerson attempted to extinguish the fire on her stove.

A child with those kinds of injuries often has a good chance for recovery, said Dr. Richard Cartie, pediatric critical care director for the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital. Though he's not treating Shakiera, he said he has treated several children for smoke inhalation.

"This type of injury is very recoverable," Dr. Cartie said. "Cleaning out the soot and carbonation from the lungs can cause damage. Our job is to keep the lungs going without much damage."

Patients are typically hospitalized for about two weeks, he said.

As family members hope for Shakiera's recovery, they are also preparing to bury three loved ones today.

Chaquan said she dreads explaining the fire to her sister once her health improves.

"I haven't really dealt with it myself," she said. "When I stay in one place, that's when it gets to me."

Services for Ms. Hankerson, Laquisha and Zyon will be at 11 a.m. today at Beulah Grove Baptist Church.

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

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Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 03/12/09 - 04:47 am
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God bless those poor children

God bless those poor children and this poor family. What a horrible thing to happen. Can you imagine losing 3 family members in one event? Awful. Come on, Shakiera, we're all pulling for you!!

MartinezMom
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MartinezMom 03/12/09 - 07:20 am
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If Shakiera is even half as

If Shakiera is even half as strong as her Mom was, she will recover nicely. I am positive that Yolanda taught her Daughter to be a strong girl.

inside info
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inside info 03/12/09 - 07:24 am
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As a first reponder to this

As a first reponder to this fire, I can tell you first hand that it is heart wrenching to see a family go through this. As family members come to grips that not only have they lost a family member, but three. It was hard to stay strong and do the job that is expect of a first responder, the kids were the hardest to take.

gnumbgnuts
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gnumbgnuts 03/12/09 - 08:28 am
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Shakiera's Dad is a fine hard

Shakiera's Dad is a fine hard working man. Everyone at his job is praying for him and his family.

vermint
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vermint 03/12/09 - 12:49 pm
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My prayers go out to the

My prayers go out to the family. May God put His healing touch on Shakeira.

nora34
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nora34 03/12/09 - 05:32 pm
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I really feel sorry for this

I really feel sorry for this family and i hope and pray that lil'Shakeira come out of this- in fact i know that she will because she is a strong little girl.Chaquan whole your head up high and GOD will watch your every step as you and the father go through this. May GOD bless you all.

enana03
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enana03 03/12/09 - 08:12 pm
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Our church has been praying

Our church has been praying daily for this family. We are praying for healing for Shakiera as well as all surviving family members. This truly a tragedy, but the Lord in His love and grace will carry them through this nighmare and bring them peace and healing.

carolinagirl1970
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carolinagirl1970 03/13/09 - 04:01 am
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My prayers are out to this

My prayers are out to this family and hoping the other girl will pull through.

hisfaith2003
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hisfaith2003 03/13/09 - 04:48 am
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My prayers goes out to this

My prayers goes out to this family. Keep praying that god will help you though your pain. Stay together as a family hold one another up.

cherylbtobin
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cherylbtobin 03/13/09 - 06:49 pm
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my prayers go out to the

my prayers go out to the family and the little one that's fighting for her life.i know that GOD is a healer and that he will bring you through it all.my prayers are with the entire family.GOD BLESS EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU.

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