WICHITA, Kan. (KSNT) – Family and friends are still trying to wrap their heads around the death of 17-year-old Markayla Kelly. “She meant a lot to everyone in the family! This is a very hard thing to deal with for everyone! But I believe God doesn’t make mistakes and he has other plans for my angel,” said Kimberly Holloway, Markayla’s aunt.
The Wichita teenager died Friday, Feb. 19 after a duplex fire.
“The world is a little, little dimmer without her right now,” said Cindy Cowell, Markayla’s former middle school teacher.
Her loved ones are describing Markayla as genuine, full of life, kind, and with a beautiful soul. “She always had a smile on her face and I think that she was a positive influence on her friends, to kind of keep you know their spirits up as well,” said Holli Gill, Markayla’s former math teacher.
Holloway said Markayla loved everyone and always made others smile.
“Just how sweet she was she really was an angel on Earth,” Gill said.
Markayla spent three years in Cindy Cowell’s class but it’s a bond that stretched well beyond middle school. “I remember you know just seeing her and hugging her and her always saying how much she loves you. I mean, she’s just that student that always has a place in your heart forever,” Cowell said.
Her former teachers believing everyone can learn something from Markayla’s life. “Always looking for the positive and knowing that, no matter what amount of struggles that you have, they’re not something that define you. And they’re not something that holds you down,” Gill said.
“Her kindness, her love for everything and fun, and just love of life is what we all should take from her,” Cowell said.
The 17-year-old girl died from smoke inhalation after she was unable to escape a fire in west Wichita on Friday, said Jose Ocadiz from the Wichita Fire Department.
Officials say the fire started in the kitchen after a burner was left on and a pan with grease caught fire. Firefighters found the girl unresponsive in her grandmother’s room.
She died later at a hospital. Officials estimate the fire caused $40,000 damage to the building and $20,000 damage to the contents.
Markayla was on track to graduate high school this year.