4-Year-Old Killed in Fire Remembered for Joyful Laugh
FAR ROCKAWAY — Dressed in white and clutching white doves they released into the sky, relatives of 4-year-old Jai'Launi Tinglin gathered Monday to mourn the child who died alongside his half-sister in a fire that is under investigation for an alleged delayed response by dispatchers.
Jai'Launi was brought into the Church of the Nazarene on Central Avenue under a clear blue sky in a little white casket surrounded by flowers, including a bouquet made in the shape of a football.
His family, including his twin sister, Lei'Launi, who survived the April 19 fire, wore white to honor the little boy who they said loved making jokes and had a joyful laugh.
Jai'Launi was known as Jai Jai, and loved "saying things he shouldn't," his family said. He was an "old soul" who was full of energy and called his father, Mark, his best friend.
While the service focused on the boy's life, those present couldn't forget the mistakes that led to his death.
"We're here to pay out last respect to the little souls that passed tragically," said Rev. Dr. Les Mullings, the pastor at the Church of the Nazarene. "The other thing is we're here in unison to also insure that a tragedy like this will never happen again."
Jai'Launi and his half-sister Aniya, also 4 years old, perished in fire on Easter Eve while they were staying at their grandparents' house on Bay 30th in Far Rockaway.
The FDNY has suspended four fire dispatchers, including a supervisor, after an initial investigation found major failings in their response to the fire — including employees who weren't in their assigned positions at the Queens call center when the fire call came in.
This led to a significant delay in sending an ambulance despite multiple calls from firefighters who arrived on scene within minutes, according to the investigation.
Investigators also found that the Queens dispatch headquarters had a "history of operational weakness."
Outside the hours-long service, Congressman Gregory Meeks joined local religious leaders to promise that the Tinglin children's deaths would not be in vain.
"We know that there has to be greater accountability," said Meeks. "We know that there has to be situations where no person should lose their life because the lack of response from our emergency folks."
After the ceremony, family members released seven white doves into the sky as the Department of Corrections pipe and drums band played "Amazing Grace."
Services for Aniya Tinglin was scheduled for Monday night from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church 378 Beach 71st St., in Arverne, with a funeral to immediately follow.
The siblings will be buried together on Tuesday, according to relatives.
Editor's Note: A headline attributing the delayed response to the fire to EMS has been clarified to reflect that investigators believe that fire alarm dispatchers caused the delay.