NEW ALBANY — Two toddlers — barely taller than the sign they held — carried the message that summed up the feelings of the more than 100 people who gathered inside the Griffin Recreation Center in New Albany on Saturday.
“Welcome home, our surviving angel,” read the sign, just one of the many displays of affection the community showed for Taty’ana Hughes, 5, who was released from an Indianapolis hospital Friday after sustaining severe injuries during a January house fire.
The blaze ravaged the Ealy Street home Taty’ana was spending the night in, and claimed the lives of her three siblings, Trinity, Tyrese and Tai’zah.
Arrests have been made and a triple murder trial is pending, but Saturday’s homecoming was about celebrating the bright spot in the midst of the epic tragedy — Taty’ana’s survival and hopeful full recovery.
“Without you all, we could not have done any of this. We still have a ways to go, but we just thank you,” said an emotional Theresa Hughes, Taty’ana’s grandmother, who has spent much of the past two months between Indianapolis and New Albany, visiting her surviving grandchild while mourning the loss of her other grandchildren.
Residents, firefighters and police officers surrounded the family inside the gymnasium of the Griffin Center as Hughes thanked the community for its support.
The morning started in front of the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library, as a short procession was held with Taty’ana receiving a ride to the Griffin Center inside a fire truck.
The loudest roar sounded when New Albany Fire Department Sgt. Bob Hannon was embraced by the family and recognized for his part in saving Taty’ana’s life.
It was Hannon who pulled her from the burning house, and the firefighter hadn’t seen Taty’ana since that cruel day.