Father of boy killed in Etowah County fire talks exclusively to - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Father of boy killed in Etowah County fire talks exclusively to ABC 33/40

Posted: Updated:
ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. - "He was Mr. Special, he had a big heart and he was always thinking of others before himself," Chris Atchley said.

Nine-year-old Callister Atchley died June 2 in a house fire in the Keener community, north of Gadsden.

"He loved science.  He loved building things, creating things, he loved working with his hands,"  Chris said.

"He was a little inventor, he was always tinkering and thinking about his next project he was going to work on."

Chris Atchley was on his way back from Mobile when he heard about the fire.  He picked up his grandmother and they were about 75 minutes south of Birmingham when he got the call.

His two other children, 10-year-old Alexandra and four-year-old Paul, received treatment for smoke inhalation.  Their mother, Jennifer Bates, suffered more serious injuries and doctors put her in a medically-induced coma.

It was her birthday.

A helicopter took Bates from Keener to UAB.  She stayed in the Intensive Care Unit until Saturday, and remains in the hospital.

"She suffered smoke inhalation and burns to her face, her arms, and her feet, but she's healing very well.  She rescued our two children here, but it's a tragic loss," Atchley said.

The family did not have insurance, so friends and neighbors are trying to provide support.  The "Atchley Family Fund" is set up at Winsouth Credit Union in Etowah County.  Chris Atchley said Absolute Fitness in Gadsden and Rainbow Monument Company also accepted donations.

"I want to thank everyone that's supporting. all the businesses, all the people, friends, family, all the neighbors known and unknown that are working and we thank you so much and thank you for all the prayers," he said.

"People that you've never even met or spoke to, it's so comforting to know that these people are coming out and helping, and all the love, the true love that people are showing, it's wonderful."

Atchley lost his job in April and recently received an employment offer in Florida.  He said that is still up in the air as he cares for Alexandra and Paul, and waits for their mother's recovery.  He said the new job is the last thing on his mind right now.

Investigators have yet to announce the cause of the fire, but Atchley said it doesn't matter to him.

"It's done now," he said.  "Nothing can change that."

Faith is carrying the family through the difficult time.

"I do not know how people live without God.  It's our faith in God that has helped us come through this.  Romans 8:28 says all things work to the good of those who love God, and are called to God according to his purpose.  If i didn't have that and if I didn't know that our son callister was with the lord now, I would lose my mind," Atchley said.

He said four-year-old Paul still asks about his brother, as he doesn't fully understand what's happened.  Alexandra is 13 months older than Callister, and Atchley said the two siblings were very close.  He said faith is helping her, too.

"It's wonderful that we taught our children from a very young age about God.  Just the basic things.  [Alexandra] has peace and comfort through that and it's helping her heal," he said.

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • John Carroll to head Ethics Commission

    John Carroll to head Ethics Commission

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:57 PM EDT2014-09-03 00:57:28 GMT
    Former Cumberland Law School Dean John Carroll will serve as acting director of the State Ethics Commission beginning Oct. 1.Ethics Commission Chairman Ed Crowell announced Tuesday that Carroll will fill in when Director Jim Sumer retires Oct. 1 after being the commission's top staff member for 17 years. Crowell says Carroll will not be a candidate for the permanent position. The commission is accepting applications for the permanent position.Carroll spent 13 years as dean of the Cumberland L...More >>
    Former Cumberland Law School Dean John Carroll will serve as acting director of the State Ethics Commission beginning Oct. 1.Ethics Commission Chairman Ed Crowell announced Tuesday that Carroll will fill in when Director Jim Sumer retires Oct. 1 after being the commission's top staff member for 17 years. Crowell says Carroll will not be a candidate for the permanent position. The commission is accepting applications for the permanent position.Carroll spent 13 years as dean of the Cumberland L...More >>
  • Poll shows most U.S. parents happy with schools

    Poll shows most U.S. parents happy with schools

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:18 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:18:23 GMT
    A new survey indicates that a majority of parents in the United States with children in public school systems would rate the quality of their children's schools as above average. Among those polled, 66 percent of parents would rate the quality of their child's school as above average or excellent. However, looking deeper in the demographics shows that minority parents are more likely to believe their children's school is average or worse.The study was released by Vox Populi Polling.More >>
    A new survey indicates that a majority of parents in the United States with children in public school systems would rate the quality of their children's schools as above average. Among those polled, 66 percent of parents would rate the quality of their child's school as above average or excellent. However, looking deeper in the demographics shows that minority parents are more likely to believe their children's school is average or worse.The study was released by Vox Populi Polling.
    More >>
  • Video appears to show beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff by ISIS

    Video appears to show beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff by ISIS

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:15:56 GMT
    An Internet video purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group.More >>
    An Internet video purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group.
    More >>
  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • Deputies in Etowah County arrest three women for chemical endangerment

    Deputies in Etowah County arrest three women for chemical endangerment

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:47 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:47:56 GMT
    The Etowah County sheriff's office arrested three women for chemical endangerment of a child. Investigators charged 28-year-old Ashton Lauren Wood, 25-year-old Jessica Amber Abner and 24-year-old Keeley Elizabeth McCain. Sheriff's Office Deputy Jeremy Lasseter say Wood and her baby both tested positive for amphetamines following the baby's birth. Her bond is set at $10,000. Wood will be supervised by Community corrections and must comply with DHR requirements. She will not be allowed to make ...More >>
    The Etowah County sheriff's office arrested three women for chemical endangerment of a child. Investigators charged 28-year-old Ashton Lauren Wood, 25-year-old Jessica Amber Abner and 24-year-old Keeley Elizabeth McCain. Sheriff's Office Deputy Jeremy Lasseter say Wood and her baby both tested positive for amphetamines following the baby's birth. Her bond is set at $10,000. Wood will be supervised by Community corrections and must comply with DHR requirements. She will not be allowed to make ...More >>
  • Clean out your cabinets for Drug Take-Back Day

    Clean out your cabinets for Drug Take-Back Day

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 1:38 PM EDT2014-09-02 17:38:07 GMT
    Do you have a drawer or cabinet of medicines? Are any of them out of date? Now is the time to check because you can safely dispose of the medications at the Etowah County Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. It is part of a nationwide effort. The event will be Saturday, September 27. A take-back station will be set up at the East Gadsden Walmart from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.A law enforcement officer will remain with the drug disposal box at all times, and the drugs that are turned in will be tr...More >>
    Do you have a drawer or cabinet of medicines? Are any of them out of date? Now is the time to check because you can safely dispose of the medications at the Etowah County Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. It is part of a nationwide effort. The event will be Saturday, September 27. A take-back station will be set up at the East Gadsden Walmart from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.A law enforcement officer will remain with the drug disposal box at all times, and the drugs that are turned in will be tr...More >>
  • Arrest made in large level extortion scheme

    Arrest made in large level extortion scheme

    Friday, August 29 2014 12:45 PM EDT2014-08-29 16:45:16 GMT
    "Everett Leon Stout, 72 and Miriam Clair Schultz, 67 are charged with 14 counts of extortion.More >>
    "Everett Leon Stout, 72 and Miriam Clair Schultz, 67 are charged with 14 counts of extortion.More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...