Saturday, 28 Nov 2020

Dad thought he’d saved both sons, 3 and 4, from fire but had only grabbed one

A heroic father thought he had saved both his sons from a fire, only to realise that the two limbs he had grabbed amid the chaos were the arm and leg of just one child.

Shaun Harvey battled smoke and flames in an effort to rescue both Zac and Harley, then three and four, when a caravan fire broke out on January 19 in west Wales.

But having grabbed what he thought were two arms and making for safety, he finally saw he was only holding Harley. Mr Harvey, who was severely injured in the blaze, then risked his life again as he battled to get back to Zac, but it was too late and the 5am fire was too intense.

His tragic story has been revealed by the boys’ mum Erin Harvey, 28, who remembers Harley – who only just survived and suffered horrendous burns – waking up and telling her his brother was dead.

The brothers were staying at their dad’s caravan for a sleepover when the fire broke out.

Authorities are still investigating the cause but do not believe the actions of any of the family members were to blame.

Ms Harvey, from Ffair Rhos near Pontrhydfendigaid, Wales, recalled the tragedy in an interview with the Real Fix podcast.

She explained: ‘Shaun had come out of the caravan, and he was holding Harley’s arm and Harley’s leg.



‘He thought that he was holding both Harley and Zac. It wasn’t until he was out of the caravan and going into the house carrying Harley that he realised that it wasn’t Zac, it was just Harley.

‘His family said that he tried to go back into the caravan to get Zac, but it was totally engulfed in flames by this point.

The fire ripped through the mobile home in the early hours during a weekend sleepover.

Ms Harvey, who has separated from the boys’ father woke up to missed calls from people who witnessed the accident.

Harley and his dad were taken to hospital, where the youngster was in a coma, but she was told the police were on their way to her home.


Speaking to episode seven of the podcast, she said: ‘I spoke to a nurse who told me that Sean and Harley were there and to wait at home. I asked “where is Zac” and she said she wasn’t sure and the police were coming to speak to me. I just knew, I had a feeling.’

When the police arrived 40 minutes later, they told her Zac had died.

She said: ‘Even though I knew it from when I spoke to the nurse, it was still a shock to hear the words.

‘I just fell to the ground, and was just shouting and screaming and then all of a sudden there were just all these questions.’

She rushed to Harley’s bedside and was told he had a slim chance of survival, due to the extensive burns he had suffered.

Ms Harvey explained: ‘The doctors said it’s very touch and go, it wasn’t even hour by hour, it was minute by minute.’

To the parents’ surprise, when Harley woke up, he could remember that his brother had died.

Ms Harvey said: ‘Because of the burns and the damage to his lungs he couldn’t really speak but you could tell what he was trying to say. He woke up and started trying to shout “Daddy”.

‘It was really hard, just knowing that he must have been so confused.

‘It was quite quickly that he said to me “Zac’s dead”.’



She added: ‘That was when it kind of hit me the most, hearing him say it.

‘Hearing doctors and police and grown-ups saying it was totally different to hearing Harley saying it.’

Harley is now recovering well.

Ms Harvey explained: ‘I think he’s even cheekier than he was before – he’s just doing so well.

‘He takes everything in his stride. He handles it much better than I could have myself.’

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