Boy killed in day care fire laid to rest

March 3, 2011 2:36:41 PM PST
The family of a child killed in a day care fire one week ago today prepares to say their final goodbyes. As they move forward, the international search continues for Jessica Tata, the woman officials say should be held responsible for that blaze that killed four children and injured three others.

A memorial continues to grow at the scene of the deadly day care fire in west Houston to remember the children who lost their lives there last week. The family of 3-year-old Shomari Dickerson will remember his life today as he is laid to rest.

The memorial services will be held at Earthman Westhaven Funeral Home on the North Freeway. Inside the memorial program for Shomari, a portion of a poem reads, 'believing this is difficult, still somehow we must trust the saddest word mankind knows will always be goodbye.'

Dickerson was among four children who died in that day care fire, after authorities say Tata left the children alone in the home with oil cooking on the stove. Three other children were rushed to the hospital, two of them in critical condition. Shomari Dickerson's sister, Makayla, was one of two children taken to Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston with second and third degree burns on about 30 percent of their bodies.

Today is a bittersweet time for the Dickerson family. As they bury one child, we've learned that Makayla and the other child at Shriners are improving.

"Both of the children that have come to the Shriners Hospital in Galveston have fortunately been able to have the ventilator support, the breathing support, removed and have the tubes removed from their lungs and are in good condition, doing well," said Dr. David Herndon of Shriners Hospital. "They are moving around, doing occupational and physical therapy, eating, playing to some extent, but still have some extensive burns."

Doctors say they are optimistic about the recovery of Makayla and the other child at Shriners.

Search continues for suspect

Meanwhile the search is intensifying for Jessica Tata, the day care operator accused of leaving those children home alone when that fire started.

Tata is now facing multiple charges. She fled the country just days after the fire.

Interpol has notified police in Nigeria and other countries to be on the lookout for her while the U.S. Marshals Service is overseeing the international hunt. Officials won't release any specifics, but a spokesperson is vowing the agency will find Tata and bring her back to Texas.

Tata boarded a plane to Nigeria on Saturday, one after arson investigators and the district attorney received a tip that she might run. The Houston Fire Department and the DA's Office have been sparring over who is at fault. Yesterday, the fire chief finally stood up and admitted to his department's mistakes.

"She's not here and we are, so as far as I'm concerned somewhere along the way we made a mistake," said HFD Chief Terry Garrison. "What we did is we trusted her attorney and that she was going to give us a statement."

Attorney Mike Monks met with Tata last Friday. He disputed the chief's accusation.

"I said, 'If she retains me, then yes we will schedule the time to talk to you in my office,' because that's what he wanted to do, but she never did," Monks said.

Monks stated that Tata never gave him any indication she was planning to run.

Tata, 22, is charged with six counts of reckless injury to a child and three counts of abandoning a child.

Stay with Eyewitness News and for the latest developments on this story.