What A Tragedy! The Whole Country Is Mourning

A house in the little Missouri hamlet of Defiance exploded, killing two small children.

Their school had canceled classes due to extreme weather, so they were at home.

Julian Keiser, age four, and Jamison Keiser, age six, passed away early on Friday morning before they could escape their burning house near Highway 94, just outside of St. Louis.

Their mother, Evelyn Turpiano, and grandparents, Jennifer and Vern Ham, were able to flee and reach safety, according to officials and a GoFundMe page.

A neighbor, Sharon Oberlag, said, “They were the nicest little boys. They thought school was the coolest thing ever, and they were so cute.”

Jaiden, who had just started kindergarten, and Julian were at home when the explosion happened because their school had canceled lessons to protect the children from the cold.

Firefighters couldn’t reach the victims in time since the house was already on fire when they arrived.

New Melle Fire Protection District Chief Dan Casey said the firefighters entered via a window in search of the boys.

“The fire prevented them from being found right away,” Casey stated. The boys’ bodies were discovered later.

Oberlag told KMOV that she heard an explosion-like sound coming from the residence.

“Thank God, we didn’t know we were going to lose the two little boys, but everyone came running to help.” What transpired is really tragic,” she said.

Oberlag added, “They attempted, but were unable, to capture the boys, Nick and Travis, who lived next door. It is awful.”

The cause of the explosion and fire is still being investigated.

The Hoffmann Family of Companies, a Florida-based enterprise founded by Missourians David and Jerri Hoffmann, owned the building. The Hoffmanns had purchased nearby wineries and eateries intending to turn the region into the Midwest’s Napa Valley.

“Our hearts are with the member of our team and their family who lost their children and grandchildren,” the company stated on Friday. “As a family-run company, we are committed to supporting our staff and our community.”

The house was close to the Defiance RoadHouse, a bar and grill owned by Turpiano, the boys’ mother.

Dan Tripp, a co-owner of Good News Brewing in Defiance, informed the Post-Dispatch that Jennifer Ham, Turpiano’s mother, had also operated the for many years.

Tripp created a GoFundMe campaign for the family, which as of Monday morning had raised over $145,000. He mentioned that both women belong to the Defiance Merchants Association, an organization that supports the regional wine industry.

“If you ever met the boys at the Defiance Roadhouse, the Christmas Festival, or the St. Patrick’s Day parade, you will never forget how excited they were about life and how much joy they brought to everyone around them,” reads a statement from the GoFundMe page.

The family will have to pay for two funerals in addition to losing their house and everything they possessed. “The family will need your prayers and emotional support as they grieve the loss of two special little boys in addition to your financial contributions,” the statement continues.

A neighbor, Laura Emerson, placed her Christmas wreath on a water pump near the destroyed house. She filled it with two plush animals.

“Those boys appeared content. They were intelligent. They were happy. They were loved,” she told the press.

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