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.

Comments (9)
  1. steveb says:

    A $10 smoke detector could have saved her life.

    1. A. M. says:

      I understand that. It is true. But she was a beautiful soul and the only thing you can say is, “A $10 smoke detector could have saved her life??”

      There is a squad of cheerleaders, at 11-13 yrs old, that are having to deal with the loss of a teammate and friend and the only thing you can say is, “A $10 smoke detector could have saved her life??”

      There is a family that needs to live with the death of a child in such a horrific way and the only thing you can say is, “A $10 smoke detector could have saved her life??”


  2. lindsey says:

    Smoke detectors don’t always work. They don’t always tell you with enough time to get out, so it MIGHT have saved her life, but then again it couldn’t. Either way, how much more inhuman can you be? A family lost someone special. Friends lost someone they cared about. These are young children, all they can think about right now is why this happened to her. Do you think the thought hasn’t crossed their mind? You should think about what you say next time and how much of a jerk your being to these kids.

    1. Robert says:

      Lindsey, I understand your point but I work as a fire inspector and this is an example of how people don’t understand the meaning of fire protection in your home. This is so horrible to think a family lost this young girl. God Bless this family because I know they are suffering. If you would like to know more about protecting your family from fire please contact me. Thanks

  3. cindy says:

    My question is, how are there 3 people in the house and only 2 got out. Don’t the bedrooms have windows? I feel horrible for the poor little girl and her family. My friends knew her very well they were on the same cheerleading team . I am sorry but something is wrong with this picture. Her dad wasn’t home according to the news so I don’t comprehend how they didn’t save her.

  4. CheerMom says:

    What the family needs now is support and prayers, not speculations and finger pointing. There are tons of what ifs but I am sure not one of us has the right to make assumptions of what went on here. As a mother of one of her Cheer Sisters we ask to please keep the family in your prayers, and not to criticize what you don’t know.

  5. Tiara says:

    Cindy, the report on KTLA said the uncle and cousin were in the garage area which is why they were able to get out so fast. Things are not always as clear cut as they seem when you aren’t the person involved. Fires can spread in seconds….time is not always on your side. I will be keeping this family in my prayers.

  6. Cheermom3 says:

    My heart goes out to this family and my family will be keeping the Newman family in our prayers. I will be at the cheer competition as my daughter cheers for another southern CA team going to the same place and I will be cheering on her squad as though it was my own. I am at a loss for words right now and have a heavy heart because that could have been anyone’s daughter. God bless Jamiesha’s soul and may she rest in peace.

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