Grieving parents give away smoke detectors after daughter's death in house fire

LAWRENCE, Kan. — A family tragedy has led to two Lawrence parents organizing an event this weekend to keep people safe and save lives.

This past March, 28-year-old Madison Halverstadt died in a house fire at her home on East 19th Street.

Investigators later ruled the fire to be accidental and discovered that no working smoke detectors were inside the home.

Just over two months after her death, Madison’s mother and father have organized an effort to honor their daughter.

On Sunday, the parents will be joined by fire crews and American Red Cross members to walk around Madison’s neighborhood, knock on doors, hand out free smoke detectors and install them for no charge.

Roger Halberstadt, Madison’s father, told 41 Action News that the event served as a way for them to make a difference following their family tragedy.

“We either had a choice to go crawl in a hole and just waste away or we had a choice to do something about it,” he explained. “I don’t want to just lay there in the pain. I want to do something that’s proactive.”

Madison’s mother, Deanna Bowman, and Roger helped organize this weekend’s event together.

On Friday, Bowman could still find items belonging to Madison out at the fire scene.

“Madison didn’t know any strangers. She loved 99.9 percent of people she met,” she explained. “To know that you’ll never see your baby girl again, I have to live the rest of my life without her.”

Following Madison’s death, Bowman said she hoped to do more to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again.

“It was preventable,” she explained. “Just having a smoke alarm or two installed in this house she would’ve been here.”

During the event this Sunday, Roger said his daughter would remain close in his thoughts.

“I’m hoping that maybe she’s looking down with a little sense of pride that mom and dad decided not to mourn her so much but to go and do something,” he explained. “I’m just hoping she’s looking down smiling and giving us a thumbs up.”

Moving forward, the two said they hoped the event could prevent more lives from being lost.

“Smoke alarms save lives,” Deanna said. “It could’ve saved my daughter's life. I don’t want you to have to go through that.”

The smoke alarm event will go from 1 to 6 p.m. this Sunday in Lawrence. 

A special ceremony will take place beforehand at the Lawrence Fire Training Center off Haskell Avenue.

Volunteers are still needed for the event. More information on how to join can be found here

To request free smoke alarms, call 211 or visit GetASmokeAlarm.com.

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