Family of South Omaha fire victim remembers 7-year-old Jaya Moore

A family remembers a 7-year-old who tragically died
A family remembers a 7-year-old who tragically died
Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 10:35 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Softened ashes show crayons and flashcards she played with her PawPaw.

A piggy bank that should be filled with coins.

A frame, meant to hold a photo from her 8th birthday party Jan. 6.

Two days after Christmas, 7-year-old Jaya Moore was visiting her grandfather, Michael Pratt, and his sister, Rashelle, when the fire happened in the early morning hours -- and her PawPaw did what he did best.

“They’re like the best of friends, first off,” said Markeyia Bogard, Jaya’s aunt. “They’re as close as two people can be. He was shielding her. He was trying to get her as far away from the fire as he could, and he held her until he couldn’t anymore...that’s when the paramedics came in.”

The injuries were too much, even for the feistiest of children. Jaya died a day later at St. Elizabeth’s burn unit in Lincoln. Her PawPaw and great aunt remain in critical condition there.

“He took her in a lot, and put her under his wing,” said Precious Clark, Jaya’s cousin. “He’s always been there for her, so that’s been like a comfort spot. Jaya being over at that house was very, very common. It’s really unfortunate. But we know Michael tried.”

As they stay close together, her family shares so many things to remember about Jaya.

“She loved her family and she had a big heart,” said Jayani, Jaya’s 10-year-old sister.

“Just riding our bikes around the block...and playing basketball with her,” said Jayden, her 11-year-old brother.

The youngest of six, Jaya was only 6 months old when her mother died in 2015.

A family bonded in loss by love -- now prepared to do it once again for Jaya.

“Everybody’s been reaching out, teachers, neighbors,” Bogard said. “It’s overwhelming, but in a good way that everyone is here, surrounding these kids with love.”

What happens next to PawPaw’s home seems inconsequential to the family. The memories crafted here are most important.

Funeral arrangements for Jaya are pending, as the family’s vigil for Michael and Rashelle continues.