READING, Pa. - A crisis team and grief counselors were at several schools in Reading on Monday to help staff and students cope with the loss of their classmate.
Jesus Velazquez, 10, died in a house fire on Friday in the city.
"I have six other children and they are taking it hard because they loved him a lot," said Heidi Velazquez, the little boy's mother.
Velazquez spoke out for the first time exclusively to 69 News. She said she is trying to stay strong for the rest of her family, but the gut-wrenching pain is simply unbearable.
"If I could turn back time and do things over again, I would. I'd rather the Lord take me instead of my baby because he didn't deserve this at all," she said.
Jesus just turned 10-years-old on Christmas, but his life was cut tragically short Friday afternoon. He was trapped on the third floor of his home in the 1100 block of Elm Street as the fire quickly spread inside.
Neighbors, and even his younger sister, desperately tried to save him.
"She ran back upstairs and she tried to grab him and he told her, 'No. You go save yourself,'" said Velazquez.
The fire marshal with the Pennsylvania State Police ruled the fire accidental. Officials said it started in the second floor bedroom. According to Velazquez, it appears Jesus was playing with a lighter.
Velazquez said her baby was a lovable little boy who always gave hugs and enjoyed playing sports. He had dreams of one day becoming a police officer.
Now, his family is planning to say goodbye. A vigil is set for Thursday from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at St. Luke's Lutheran Church on North 9th Street in the city. A private funeral is scheduled for Friday.
The community has rallied behind the Velazquez family. People have dropped off bags full of clothes and donations at the Little Brown Jug bar on Lancaster Avenue, and in just a few days more than $2,300 has been raised.
"We have been really grateful to everybody. I just want to say thank you to the firefighters who were rushing and slipping and falling trying to get into the house to help, and to the police officers," said Velazquez.
The Berks County coroner conducted an autopsy Saturday, but said more tests are needed to determine exactly how he died. Those could take up to six weeks.
The Velazquez family said it lost everything in the fire. The American Red Cross is helping them with temporary shelter, but a memorial fund has now been set-up for their long-term needs.
You can donate to the "Milgaros Maldonado for Jesus Velazquez" fund at Metro Bank. Clothing may be dropped off at the Little Brown Jug at 900 Lancaster Ave.
Allentown, PA 18102