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Friends Tearfully Mourn 12-Year-Old Cheerleader Killed In Whittier House Fire

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WHITTIER (CBS) — An emotional vigil was held Sunday night in Whittier for a 12-year-old cheerleader killed in a house fire.

More than 100 friends showed up to offer support to Jamiesha Newman’s family.

Newman was killed Friday.

The tears flowed easily. A normally upbeat cheerleader squad was somber and silent.

Newman was a proud member of the Whittier Redskin Jr. Midget Cheerleaders.  Newman was remembered tonight as a good student, talented tumbler, friend to all and special soul. Many called her an inspirtation.

Friends and mourners left scores of candles, balloons, stuffed animals, cards and notes.

Her coach, Danielle Verdette, said Jamiesha was one of the sweetest girls she ever coached. “She was a great girl,” Verdette sobbed, “I’m so sorry, so sorry this happened to her. She was such a beautiful girl.”

That was a sentiment echoed by many of the mourners, according to Rachel Kim, reporting from the vigil for CBS2 and KCAL9.

Friend Michaela Abrego said, “Jamiesha never said a bad word about anyone. She was so kind. She had such a pure soul.”

The cheerleading team tried to support Newman’s father, James, who is devastated. He told Kim, “I can’t explain it. There is too much eating me up inside.” He added, “I’m never going to be okay. She’s not here no more.”

Of his daughter he said, “I love you, she will always be in my heart.”

The fire started in the living room and was called accidental.

Firefighters said the home did not have smoke detectors.

The cheerleaders are headed to a national competition at the end of the month but they told Kim they are going with heavy hearts and a void that will be hard to fill.

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