Community mourns Chesapeake youth

Published 10:22 am Friday, February 12, 2010

Those who knew Johnathan Fralic remember him as someone who was full of life and loved to smile.

Johnathan, a 10-year-old, lost his life in a fire at his home in Bradrick Wednesday morning.

The child was a fourth grader at Chesapeake Elementary, where he had attended since kindergarten.

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“I didn’t know him as well as some of the teachers but from what I know of Johnathan, he was an absolute sweetheart,” Jamie Shields, principal of Chesapeake Elementary, said. “He smiled a lot.”

The little boy touched many of the teachers and educational aides, who are struggling with his death.

“We’re all just very saddened by this and we’re really going to miss Johnathan,” Shields said. “He was a sweetheart. He really was.”

Class was cancelled Thursday because of bad weather, but Shields said counselors will be on hand at the school to talk with students when school starts again.

“The fourth graders, the ones that I’ve talked to are very upset,” she said.

The school plans to collect money to help the family pay for funeral costs. Other plans include a memorial bulletin board where students can record their memories of the fourth grader.

Each year firefighters from the Chesapeake/Union department bring a truck to the school and teach the students about fire safety. Fire Chief Brandon Best called Shields Wednesday to confirm that Johnathan had died.

Shields said this event will not likely be a time to discuss fire safety again with the students, as they are very sad about Johnathan’s passing.

“A lot of the kids are upset,” she said. “We have to be really sensitive to that. It’s a tragic thing.”

Kim Perry, an educational aide who was too upset to talk and related her thoughts through Shields, remembers him as a typical boy who loved monster trucks and had a particular interest in one of the teacher’s cars.

The teacher, Debbie Riggs, had gotten permission to take him home one day in her Corvette. The 10-year-old was thrilled.

The Fralics attend church at Life Cathedral in Huntington.

Edwin Harper, the church’s pastor, remembers Johnathan as a sweet boy.

“He loved to come to Sunday School, loved to come to church,” Harper said. “He would always come up to me and say ‘I like being here, Brother Harper.’”

Johnathan had some medical problems, he said.

“He probably had some challenges of life,” he said. “He had medical challenges. They publicly requested prayer because he had convulsions and seizures. He had been hospitalized or treated.”

Johnathan and his mother and father had been going to the church off and on since he was about two years old. His mother, Rita Fralic, has two daughters from a previous marriage.

“Our main concern now is that we have a mom and a dad and two little half sisters that we have to get through this storm,” Harper said.

The church also plans to help the family with funeral costs.

Shane Cartmill, a spokesman for the Division of State Fire Marshal, said Thursday that investigators had returned to the area for additional scene examination and interviews.

The cause of the fire, which started on the second floor of the residence near a portable heater, has yet to be determined.

Rita Fralic was reached Thursday afternoon but declined to comment.

Those wishing make a contribution for the cost of the funeral can contact the school at 867-3443. Donations for the family are also being accepted in a memorial fund at any City National Bank location. Those who make a contribution to the fund are asked to specify the Fralic family name.