Vigil honors victims of fire

200-plus people remember mother, son, help survivors with clothing drive

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple Brookelynn Barr of Leavittsburg, niece of fire victim Cassie Gray, holds a candle while attending a candlelight vigil Sunday evening in Warren to honor Gray and her 5-year-old son, Otto, who also died in the New Year’s Day blaze. Gray’s husband, Lee, and their 7-year-old son, Simon, survived.

More than 200 people holding candles gathered along Fairway Court NE Sunday evening to show their love and support to the Gray family, who suffered the loss of Cassie Gray and her 5-year-old son, Otto, in a New Year’s Day house fire.

The northeast Warren neighborhood had luminaries lining several streets that led to Fairway Court where residents, friends and relatives of the family gathered in a large circle around the cul-de-sac to show their respect to the family.

Large groups of people were seen walking along the sides of the streets to get to the vigil.

Lee Gray and his son, Simon, 7, who were able to get out of their Woodland Street NE house were not in attendance but prayers were said for them.

The vigil, which included several prayers, moment of silence, joining of hands, and special memories shared, was organized by Jennifer Saul Campbell and Jenna Daugherty.

There also was a place to drop off clothing items and other donations in the driveway and garage of the Fowley family.

“We are so blessed to have the opportunity to come together and pray for the family. We will remember the family daily in our thoughts and prayers,” Campbell said.

Daugherty said the neighborhood residents wanted to show their support to the Gray family.

“We wanted to come together and rally around them and let them know we support them. We lift our voices to God asking him to be with all of us during this difficult time,” she said during a prayer.

Howland resident Darlene St. George, an aunt of Lee Gray, said relatives of the Grays “want to thank the community for your outpouring of love amd support.”

“We are two big loving families and this has been overwhelming for Lee and Simon and all of us. There are no words that can be said about this tragedy. We thank you for you prayers and the love for Cassie and Otto. That means everything to all of us,” St. George said.

Those in attendance, including school teachers who knew the family, said the Grays were very well known and very active in the community, always helping others and taking part in events.

“They were a kind, caring and loving family,” said Lindsay Klein of Boardman, a Warren teacher.

“They were a bright light in this community. It is amazing how many people have come together to support them,” said Elizabeth McComb of Sharon, Pa., a Waren school teacher.

Pastor Joel Goldberg of Grace Fellowship Church said there is so much hurt for so many for the loss of Cassie and Otto and for the Gray family.

“We pray for Lee and Simon and ask that you wrap your arms around them and bring comfort to them.” he said.

Monica Groves of Warren said a GoFund Me account has been established online called the Lee Gray Family Emergency & Memorial Fund and raised more than $150,000. More than 1,500 people had donated to the fund as of Sunday.

“We are amazed at the outpouring of love and support for the family,” she said.

Jen Campbell said meals are also being provided to the family into February.

Although the Trumbull County Coroner’s Office has said the names of the two victims would not be released until after today’s autopsy, posts on social media and many people at the vigil identified them as Cassandra Gray and her son Otto.

Salvatore’s restaurant, where Cassie Gray was employed, closed on New Year’s Day in honor of Gray.

“It is with the saddest regret to inform the loss of a dear and loving member of our restaurant family. Salvatore’s will be closed today and will resume business Saturday,” according to a post on the businesses’ Facebook page.

A post on Sunday states the restaurant and the Coppola family will be donating a portion of the business’ proceeds in January to the Gray family fund.


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