BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Pleas to the community are growing stronger from the family of the 49-year-old man who died in last Friday’s fire.
They want to take the remains of Juan Alberto Montanez back to Puerto Rico. But they don’t have the money to do so.
Montanez was killed in the Humber Avenue fire that also took the life of 24-year-old Demetrius Johnson.
Members of the Montanez family and local Hispanic community came together again Tuesday, after launching a fundraising drive on Sunday.
They said donations have been trickling in, including a $250 check from Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown that was given Tuesday. But it still leaves them far short of the thousands needed by the end of the week.
“We’re all coming together to say, hey, if you can donate $5, $10, whatever it is that you can help this family,” said Wilmer Olivencia, Jr., a community activist. “You can come to the Prince of Peace Church, located at 190 Albany St. and just donate.”
Donations can be dropped off at the church from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Friday.
“They have a desire to head back to Puerto Rico because that’s where the entire family is, mom and dad, five children, that are just waiting to see what’s going to happen,” said Bishop Angel Gauthier, of Prince of Peace Christian Church.
Meanwhile, funeral arrangements for Demetrius Johnson have been set for 11 a.m. Friday at St. John Baptist Church on Goddell Street. A wake will start at 10 a.m., while repast at 273 High St., follows the funeral. Any food or other donations should be dropped off by 9 a.m., the family said.
Johnson’s daughter, Treasure Brighon, 8, who was burned on 90 percent of her body, had successful surgery Monday, her family said. Tuesday, she received the first of what will be several skin grafts. Doctors earlier this week said there’s about a 20 percent chance Treasure will survive. However, board members of Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati — to where she was flown Friday — just celebrated the successful recovery of a boy from Dayton, who was burned on 85 percent of his body.