7-year-old girl dies at hospital after Staten Island house fire

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, January 3, 2024
Family, neighborhood remembers little girl killed in house fire on Staten Island
Lindsay Tuchman reports.

STATEN ISLAND, New York (WABC) -- It was a tragic start to the new year for a family in Staten Island after first responders were unable to save a 7-year-old girl from a fire that swept through a home.

Three generations were living in the house and the heartbreaking loss comes on the heels of another family tragedy just before Thanksgiving.

The young victim was identified Tuesday as Rory DeCristoforo. She died of apparent smoke inhalation at Richmond University Medical Center.

FDNY officials say the fire started at around 5:30 p.m. in a second-floor bedroom at the two-story home on Brookside Avenue.

Citizen App video captured smoke billowing from the second floor of the home as firefighters worked to put out the fire.

Citizen App video captured smoke billowing from the second floor of a home on Staten Island.

Twelve units, including 60 fire and EMS personnel, responded to the scene and had the fire under control in less than an hour, but it was not enough to save the 7-year-old girl who was trapped on the second floor.

Neighbors watched anxiously as rescuers scooped her little body out of the house which had become a death trap.

"I saw the firefighter coming down the ladder and carrying her from the second floor," neighbor Paul Michielli said.

"I saw them working on the little girl on the lawn over there," neighbor Gianna Michielli said. "We saw them doing compressions inside the ambulance."

Despite all the valiant efforts, police say the little girl died at the hospital.

The DeCristoforos, with help from friends and family, spent Tuesday cleaning out their home. Neighbors say they are in shock.

"They're newly into the neighborhood and it's just a wonderful family, young children and it's just very hard to understand," neighbor John Reilly said.

The heartache is unimaginable, but worse yet, neighbors say this New Year's Day tragedy comes on the heels of even more devastation.

The family moved into the grandparents' home recently to help care for them. Eyewitness News reporter Lucy Yang was told the grandmother passed away just before Thanksgiving.

The family went from a funeral to the holidays, only to begin the new year with another death. This time, the young granddaughter.

"I saw the mom running around as the girl was in the ambulance," Gianna Michielli said.

"It doesn't get worse than this. It doesn't get worse than this," neighbor Elena Curcuru said.

The child's dad, Mark DeCristoforo, is the athletic director at the nearby St. Peter's Boy's High School.

"I have so many friends that went to Peter's, so many boys I knew that probably had him as a teacher and I saw them all posting that stuff on social media, that's how I heard about it," Staten Island resident Ava Guardino said.

Authorities say three adults and four children lived in the home.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family recover from the loss of their home, and their daughter. The page has already raised more than half of its goal of $500,000.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


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