By Max Hrenda
Even though she may have known she was about to die, Tracy Parsons may have spent her last moments of life trying to make sure her daughter and grandson would survive.
The 52-year-old Elizabethton woman died Sunday morning after smoke from a kitchen fire filled her family’s home at 1427 Riverview Drive. Her daughter, Esther Locke, 26, and her 4-year-old grandson, Aiden, managed to escape, possibly because of Tracy Parsons’ efforts to warn them of the fire spreading outward from the kitchen.
Locke would later tell investigators she heard her mother pounding on her bedroom door, warning her and Aiden of danger.
Parsons’ body was found only a few feet away from that door, where, authorities believe, she most likely died from smoke inhalation.
For Bill Parsons, Tracy’s husband, it comes as no surprise that his wife, who he described Monday as “his best friend,” would risk her life to save her family.
“Tracy died doing what she had done all her life, and that was taking care of her kids and grandkids,” Bill Parsons said. “That was her one mission in life … and she saved Esther and Aiden’s life.”
Bill Parsons works as the advertising director for the Elizabethton Star. At the time of the fire, he was in Kingsport undergoing medical treatment.
“I’ll regret this for the rest of my life that I wasn’t there to help save her,” he said. “I don’t know what I could have done, but I would have tried.”
Emergency responders say, however, that little could have been done to save Tracy Parsons once the smoke had filled the house. The first emergency crew on the scene was the Hampton/Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Department. By the time that crew arrived, around 9 a.m., Chief Johnny Isaacs said the smoke had become so thick that all visibility was gone.