Posted: Aug. 11, 2014 12:01 am Updated: Aug. 25, 2014 12:15 am
By ALYSE THOMPSON
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Car after car crawled past the sand-colored house at 921 N. 11th Sunday afternoon, their occupants craning their necks to see a family grieving.
Relatives of Lewis Bassett leaned flower vases, wreaths and a wooden cross against a wire fence surrounding the soot-stained home, hours after a fire there claimed Bassett’s life and those of his two young sons, Lewis Bassett Jr., 3, and Ladavion Bassett, 1.
Foil balloons swayed in the breeze as relatives remembered Lewis Sr., a man with a mottled past who they said had started to change.
“I’m going to miss all three of them,” said Richelle Bias, a sister of Lewis Sr., from the sidewalk in front of 917 N. 11th, one door south from where smoke had billowed a day earlier.
Fire crews responded to the scene just after 5 p.m. Saturday, and upon arrival, they removed Lewis Sr., 43, and his sons from the home. All were transported to Blessing Hospital, where Lewis Sr. and Ladavion were pronounced dead shortly after. Lewis Jr. was flown to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, but he, too, succumbed to fire-related injuries early Sunday morning.
Assistant Fire Chief James Pioch said Monday the investigation into the cause of the fire continues and that interviews are being conducted. Both the Quincy fire and police departments are involved in the investigation.
Throughout the day, family and friends congregated in much of North 11th’s 900 block — some in a yard across the street from 921 N. 11th, others in and around 917 N. 11th, where Bias described Lewis Sr. and his encounters with the legal system.
“He wasn’t a bad person,” she said. “He just really didn’t think too much about life. He sold drugs, got in trouble, went to prison.”
Adams County court records indicate Lewis Sr. has had several drug-related infractions since the early 2000s. He was later sentenced to serve four years at the Pinckneyville Correctional Center.
Bias said Lewis Sr., also known as “Doozer,” began to change after the births of the youngest of his 11 children, Lewis Jr. and Ladavion — two “smart little mans,” Bias said — and four-month-old daughter Khloe.
“(He) didn’t have much involvement with his other kids, but he tried to make up for it with the kids he had now,” said Larvetta Bassett, another sister of Lewis Sr.
Nevertheless, Lewis Sr. reconnected with one of his older children just four weeks before the fire. Jarryd Bassett, 22, saw his father for the first time in more than a decade, and he said was happy to spend time with Lewis Sr. and his half-siblings.
“Even though it was for a short time, I’m happy I got to know him. I got to know who he was,” he said, appearing shaken. “I’m happy to know he loved me, cared about me.”
Lewis Sr. also landed housekeeping work at the Quincy Country Club, which Bias said meant a good deal to him.
“He had a job, something that was hard for him to have from previous years,” she said. “For him to get this job, he was just so overwhelmed. Even if it was just a couple hours, he still went to work. He loved it.”
It seems that not everything was peaceful at home, however. Randy White, who was renting the North 11th home to Lewis and his wife, Patsy, told the Herald-Whig Saturday the couple had just split up. White also said he evicted them earlier this week and allowed Lewis to stay there while he cleaned up the residence.
Patsy, while sobbing, returned from St. Louis to 917 N. 11th Sunday afternoon, where family and friends greeted her.
“He will be really missed — and his babies,” Bias said.
The Bassett family will hold a fundraiser for funeral expenses at Pizza Hut, 24th and Locust, at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 11. A candlelight vigil is scheduled for Tuesday around dusk.