MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We are learning more about the lives of two young children killed in a weekend house fire.
Twelve-year-old Tyler, 3-year-old Layla, and their mother, Tia Nustad, died when the flames overtook the home early Saturday morning just outside Watertown.
For Joe Wyman, Layla’s father, the last two days have been a blur of grief and emotion.
“It’s like a bad dream. You think this type of thing will never happen to you and it can,” Wyman said. “You know you can never be prepared for it and it’s tough, really tough.”
Monday afternoon, Wyman held on to Layla’s purple blanket. He doesn’t want to let go of his daughter’s favorite thing.
“This blankie here, Layla never went anywhere without it,” Wyman said. “I can’t remember the last time I had a blankie, but I know I have one now.”
On Saturday morning, Wyman heard the news that would change his life forever.
His pain was made even worse with the loss of Layla’s brother, Tyler, who was also in the home.
Wyman raised Tyler like his own for several years.
“We were the closest a family could be, I think,” Wyman said.
He is still trying to comprehend the unimaginable loss. Layla was just starting pre-school and practicing gymnastics. Her father describes her as a spitfire always on the go.
“Very big personality, yeah, she was the life of the house,” Wyman said.
Tyler’s art is now among Wyman’s most valuable possessions.
The 12-year-old had a love of drawing. Last year, he earned a second place ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair, showcasing his budding talent.
“It took us awhile to find it, and once we found where it was, it was like, the smile on his face was like priceless,” Wyman said. “It means everything to me just knowing he did it.”
Even though the last few days have been filled with grief, Wyman and those who loved Tyler and Layla are trying not to focus on their final moments, rather celebrate how they lived.
“They put smiles on everyone’s face that they came in contact with,” he said.
A GoFundMe site has been set up to help offset the funeral costs. If you’d like to help, click here.
There’s also a GoFundMe on behalf of the children’s mother, Tia. You can donate to that account here.