'They were loved:' Monroe community remembers family killed in cabin fire
MONROE, Wash. -- At Cascade Church in Monroe, Pastor Nate Hettinga knows his congregation is no longer whole.
“Yeah, something is missing,” Pastor Hettinga said.
Last weekend, the church lost five beloved members. Jerry and Jenny Drake, and their three sons, were killed when their cabin in Brinnon went up in flames early Sunday morning.
“We’ve lost individuals before,” Pastor Hettinga said. “But losing a whole family is just devastating on an entirely different level.”
Pastor Hettinga has known the Drakes for eight years. He says Jerry and Jenny, both 42, were loving parents with big personalities. Braeden, 11, and Zachary, 8, were rambunctious but very smart. And 2-year-old Dylan was on his way to being just like his brothers.
“You always knew when the Drakes were in the room. They were a big presence,” Pastor Hettinga said. “We believe they’re at home together. And we’re trying to figure out what that means for us.”
The Drake’s extended family is also grieving. They sent the following statement to KOMO News Wednesday:
“We appreciate the community we are a part of, and understand your sense of shared grief. We respectfully request that everyone allows us privacy as we work through what is understandably a huge blow to our family.”
“The Drake’s were an amazing group of individuals that made up a loving and close family. They enjoyed fishing, monster trucks, playing Pokémon Go and getaways at the cabin. Unfathomably, early Sunday a fire took Jerry, Jenny, and their boys. From all reports they went to sleep peacefully and never woke up. They are survived by their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They will be in our hearts and minds forever. We are truly lucky to have them in our family.”
“We would like to reiterate that the Drake family were in their cabin, on property co-owned by extended family. There was nothing nefarious. This is the very definition of a tragedy. Our loss is indescribable.”
“An account is set up at BECU, the Drake Memorial Fund, to go towards the memorial and funeral costs for Jerry, Jenny, Braeden, Zachary, and Dylan, in lieu of flowers or meals, if you would like to assist.”
“We would like to give accolades to the fire departments, the sheriff’s department, and the neighbors who helped us in so many ways through this. Their response and professionalism is so very much appreciated. They are still working on the official reports and so we have no further information to give.”
“We ask that you all hug your loved ones close and take that moment to listen to the small ones, because you never know when you won’t have the opportunity.”
Braeden and Zachary attended Fryelands Elementary School. The Monroe School District brought in extra counselors this week to support the students.
“They were hurting. I’m just glad that we had people there to help,” Prevention Services Coordinator Joe Neigel said. “They were really well loved. And the impacts were far reaching.”
A public vigil for the Drakes is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Cascade Church.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.