Rochester, N.Y.— A year has passed since the Grape Street fire and in that time, many things have changed in the neighborhood. But some things never go away. Some memories are hard to erase.
Monday marked one year since a deadly fire claimed the lives of four siblings in the neighborhood.
On February 18, 2012, Gage Reavey, 14; Greg Kugler, 13; Kandee Kugler, 12; and Kaiden Kugler, 6; died in a fire set by their mother Bobbie Kugler.
Bobbie Kugler admitted to setting the fire after drinking several cans of malt liquor and taking sleeping pills. She said she set pictures of her ex-boyfriend on fire and left them on the dresser.
Bobbie and her two-year-old son survived the fire. Giovanni Delorm and Waltquaries Evans, two of the children’s friends, also survived. They happened to be spending the night at the Kugler home that night. The two escaped burning house by jumping out of second floor window.
In January, Kugler was sentenced seven to 15 years in prison.
On Monday, Giovanni’s mother, Waltquaries and his mother along with about a dozen other friends and neighbors gathered at Grape Street to hold a vigil for the Kugler children.
“I think it might help that we are all here to celebrate their lives and to just be together like we used to be,” said Giovanni’s mother, Colleen Bender.
The groups held hands in a heart formation and lit candles. They shared memories about Gage, Greg, Kandee and Kaiden and they said prayers for them.
Giovanni wasn’t at the vigil. His hand is still healing from his jump out the window. His mother doesn’t know if he’ll ever have full use of his hand again. Plus, the memories of being on Grape Street are proving to be too hard to bear.
“He's been doing okay but he still has nightmares,” Bender explained. “That's why he's not here today. He can't handle it right now.”
Waltquaries was at the vigil on Monday night. He says he wants people to remember his friends for the kind children they were.
“They were really good people,” he said. “People you could go to for anything. They were just that kindhearted.”
When asked if they feel Bobbie Kugler got the appropriate punishment, Bender and Waltquaries’ mother both said no. They wanted a stronger sentence but Bender also had this to say:
“She will be suffering the rest of her life knowing what she did to her own children.”
Kugler’s old home has since been renovated and a whole new family lives there now. Many of friends and neighbors of the Kugler children say they wish the owner would have just torn down the home.
They say seeing the home brings back bad memories. What happened on February 18, 2012, haunts them to this day.
“It just has a different feel,” said neighbor and friend, Anthony Pyryemybida. “It used to be comfortable, but now whenever I walk by I always think of [the children].”