HAMPTON -- 13-year-old Elizabeth Nelson-Thacker died on the second floor of her townhome early Tuesday morning.
Nelson-Thacker was in 7th Grade at Syms Middle School, where friends decorated her locker as a tribute.
'We just put, like, wrote, 'God bless Elizabeth,'' 12-year-old Tavesha May told 13News. 'These kids at school, I think they was in Art, they put 'God bless Elizabeth,' and lots of people signed it and stuff.'
May knew Nelson-Thacker for about 3 years, and often spent time at the home where neighbors said Nelson-Thacker's father tried to get the 13-year-old out of the home.
When Hampton Fire Division crews got to the townhouse in Kensington Square Apartments off Clemwood Parkway, they found flames coming from the first and second stories.
Nelson-Thacker's 39-year-old father and 45-year-old mother were on the ground outside.
Fire Division spokesman Lt. Anthony Chittum said the parents suffered from smoke inhalation. Late Tuesday, the father was in critical condition, and the mother was in stable.
'She jumped out the window in the back and he was running around calling Elizabeth,' Evelyn Rivera said. 'He tried to go back in but the fire was so much. He couldn't do anything.'
News of the seventh grade student's death quickly spread at Syms Middle School.
'I just started crying,' said her friend Angel McIntire. 'We shared a diary. We visited each other's houses. We just do everything.'
'I saw people that I wouldn't expect that would have cried, but they did,' shared May. 'I held it in 'til I got home. I just broke down crying.'
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. It's unclear whether the house had a working smoke detector.
In all, three units were damaged.
Administrators at Sym Middle School plan to talk to Nelson-Thacker's family and decide the best way to honor the 13-year-old.
In addition to a statement offered by Hampton City Schools Superintendent Linda Shifflette, Syms' Principal Sharon Slater posted these words on the school's Web site:
It is with profound sadness I share with you news of the death of Elizabeth Nelson-Thacker, a seventh grade student. Elizabeth died in a fire at her home. Both of her parents were severely injured and are hospitalized.
Hampton City Schools has provided counselors to assist students and teachers as they process the news and work through the grieving process. Students may exhibit a variety of emotions and responses during the grieving process, ranging from crying, numbness, and feelings of despair, to simply wanting to be close to family and friends. All are normal responses.
Words can do little to lessen the pain of the tragic loss of a member of the Syms' family. Our thoughts and heartfelt prayers go out to Elizabeth's family. The Syms' staff stands ready to support your child. Should you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at