“This little girl had the heart and soul of an 80-year-old woman,” Susan Townsend Bateman said through tears on Thursday morning.
Her 4-year-old granddaughter, Addy Grae Bateman, succumbed to injuries sustained in an early morning house fire at 934 Green Street.
“Addy Grae Bateman loved all creatures, great and small,” father Townsend Bateman said.
“She loved her family and the holiday season. She never met a stranger and she had a sense of humor and spirit that filled a room. She was truly a gift on loan from God and we will be forever grateful for the time we shared here on earth,” he said.
“Heaven has gained a true angel,” he added.
Dispatchers received a call about the fire at around 12:30 a.m. Thursday. Firefighters arrived at the residence by 12:34 a.m., Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Capt. Alfred Alexander said.
“Officers encountered the mother of the children and she explained that another child was in the house,” Alexander said.
Emergency responders located Addy Grae inside her bedroom and immediately removed her from the home.
Crews performed CPR on the child and transported her to the Regional Medical Center, where she eventually passed away, Alexander said.
Addy Grae’s 2-year-old brother managed to escape the fire. He received treatment for smoke inhalation at RMC and was released, Alexander said.
Medics transported the children’s mother to the Augusta Burn Center where she is undergoing treatment for internal injuries.
Alexander said the fire started in the kitchen area and appears to be accidental.
The incident remains under investigation.
In the meantime, Addy Grae’s family is celebrating her short 4-and-a-half years of life by embracing their memories.
“She was in the first year at St. Andrews (United Methodist Church) kindergarten and she liked going there and playing,” grandfather John Bateman said.
He was at the beach with his wife when he got a call from his son.
“He’s been at the burn center with his wife,” who has burns on her hands, feet and face, John Bateman said.
He said the last time he saw Addy Grae was on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
“She was always happy and laughing,” he said.
Addy Grae’s grandmother was trying to stay busy on Thursday.
“If you’ve ever known anybody that was about too good to be in the world, somebody with a heart and spirit that was so sensitive,” she said.
“She had a beauty and love that was unmeasured her whole life for all of God’s creation. She adored life. She adored people. She always had a heart of wanting to help others. She never wanted anybody to hurt,” she said.
“She didn’t want people to feel left out. She didn’t want children to feel rejected,” she added.
And the loss of Addy Grae is particularly difficult during the holidays.
Her grandmother said she’d taken her sewing machine to the beach to make little chef hats and Christmas aprons for them to wear for Addy Grae’s visit, which was planned for next month.
“We had so much planned,” she said.
“She was coming to visit and we were going to make gifts for the birds,” she said.
Addy Grae’s family said they will continue to lean on God to comfort them with peace during their time of loss.