Clarke County

Athens 12-year-old survives fire that killed his mother, sister and grandmother

ATHENS, Ga. — A 12-year-old Athens boy was the sole survivor of a house fire that killed his mother, 8-year-old sister and grandmother early Wednesday morning.

Taedon Johnson managed to escape the home on Spring Valley Road and ran to a neighbor for help. By the time fire crews arrived, the home was fully engulfed in flames.

“He kept saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I just tried to get them out. I was trying to save them.’ Was the saddest thing I ever seen,” neighbor Al-Lynn Mayo told Channel 2. “I had to grab that baby and hold him and tell him, ‘You can’t go back in there.’”

Johnson was taken to the hospital with burns to his arms and chest.

[DONATE: GoFundMe page for Taedon Johnson]

One of Johnson’s former mentors from school, Zac Hendrix, started a GoFundMe after receiving a call about what happened.

“As soon as I got the call I rushed up to Athens to make sure my best friend is okay and alive. By the Grace of God to see his smile saying, “I love you bro, you are just a few of the family I have left...” has left me crushed, but trusting God’s plan through this tragic event,” Hendrix said on the GoFundMe page.


Hendrix asked people to donate clothes, time or money to help Johnson.

Johnson, who is now living with his paternal grandmother, lost everything he owned in the fire. Johnson also has a half-sister in high school who was not home at the time of the fire.

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The page has already raised more than $70,000 of the $500,000 goal.

“The proceeds will go directly to a fund for his college and future that I have set up for him. Also the proceeds will go to his grandmother (Brenda Ballard) to buy him some clothes and help his family with their personal needs. His sizes are (youth M/L/XL) or even adult small that he will eventually grow into. He also wears a size 5 shoe, but will eventually be in a 6,” the GoFundMe said.

Hendrix said he visited with Johnson at the hospital and asked for prayers to help him through.

“Taeden has burn wounds on his face, elbow, and arm but he is smiling and I am so thankful for that ... While he is in shock about what happened, he is battling a lot of grief. Please join me in lifting him up in your prayers,” Hendrix posted. “May we trust God’s plan more than ever before, hug your loved ones today... You never know when it will be your last one.”

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