'I’m not leaving my wife': Missouri man, 84, dies after he refuses to leave spouse trapped in house fire
The dispatch was on the phone with Kenneth Zerr who was trying to help his wife Phyllis Zerr out of the house but both got trapped
ST CHARLES, MISSOURI: A married couple has died in an overnight fire in St Charles County, according to authorities. The deaths of Kenneth Zerr, 84, and his wife, Phyllis Zerr, 84, were determined at about 12.40 am Thursday at the scene of the fire in the 800 block of Tall Cedar Court in New Melle, Missouri.
When emergency personnel arrived, smoke was coming from the house. They were told that more people might be trapped there. Firefighters lost contact with the victims while talking to them on the phone, reports News 19.
According to fire officials, the Zerrs were caught in flames in their master bathroom. The New Melle Fire Protection District said Thursday afternoon that the fire in the basement is suspected to have been started by an appliance, but the investigation is ongoing. They discovered flames ripping through the first floor and into the two upstairs bedrooms. The floor began to crumble as emergency personnel made their way upstairs to search. The two walked right into a trap.
As reported by News19, Zerr said "The dispatch was on the phone with my father, and my father was trying to help my mother out of the house, and they got trapped." Even a fire couldn't separate this couple. "The dispatch told my father to come out of the house, and my father said, 'I'm not leaving my wife and stayed with her. Until the end," Zerr continued.
The couple had a large extended family that included their three children and numerous grandchildren. Their child revealed to '5 On Your Side' that his parents had strong ties to their church and neighborhood. As News19 reports, they practically always celebrated the holidays in a house covered with duct tape.
"Everybody wanted to be like them and everybody wanted to be with them. My mom and dad were salts of the earth. They will be dearly missed. They were a pillar of the community. They were our rocks. They were our foundation. They were our wisdom," as reported by News19.
In September, the pair marked 63 years of marriage. On Tuesday, Kenneth celebrated his 84th birthday, and Phyllis did so in July. The family claimed they had already made funeral arrangements, as reported by News19.