BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Buffalo community gathered Thursday night to remember Dr. Jonathan Daniels and his two daughters who were killed in a house fire on the Fourth of July. Neighbors at the vigil said their legacies will live on through the community.
Dr. Daniels, 53, his two daughters, Jensen, 23, and Jordan, 27, and a dog died after a massive house fire in Buffalo.
The beloved pediatrician was described as a loving father, role model and leader for his community.
“In order to serve you have to be self-less. He did that,” one person shared.
Family and friends released balloons into the sky with handwritten messages on them, sharing with Dr. Daniels, Jensen and Jordan just how much they are missed.
A neighbor reported seeing flames on the second floor of the Huntington Avenue house around 3:30 a.m. This is just blocks away from Shoshone Park.
According to officials, the fire started on the second floor of the home and spread to the attic. Those who died were declared deceased at the scene after firefighters tried to save them. They were identified as Jonathan, Jensen, and Jordan Daniels.
Dr. Daniels’ surviving daughter, Jillian, spoke with emotion, saying she wants not only her father’s memory to live on, but also the legacy of her two sisters.
“But above all else, my daddy and my sisters taught me to walk with integrity with everything that I did and with all of the actions that will soon come,” Jillian Daniels said.
He did more than serve patients. When Thomas Beauford Jr., president and CEO of the Buffalo Urban League, moved to Buffalo in 2006, Dr. Daniels welcomed him to the community and even into his home. They quickly learned they were both members of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
“For someone who didn’t know anyone else here, that was just welcoming and warming,” Beauford said.
For the medical community, Dr. Daniels was a pillar, paving the way for others.
“He really was a role model to many young people,” Steve Swift, chief financial officer for CINQ Care, said.
Many people said Dr. Daniels always kept a watchful eye over his patients, often serving as a community role model they could relate to as they grow up in Buffalo.
“He dedicated his life to increasing minority representation in medicine and the sciences,” Bryan Carvajal, physicians assistant student at SUNY Upstate Medical University, said.
“And especially having someone that looks like you that has shared experiences that you can feel vulnerable too and just have them give you assurances,” Beauford added.
Dr. Daniels and his daughters will live on through the memories of the community they served. Those who knew him best say he would encourage everyone to keep moving forward.
“Keep being great. Fill your canvas with wonderful things so that you have wonderful memories to look back on and cherish. And make sure above all, you remember community,” another speaker added.
Dr. Daniels’ wife, Janessa, is currently recovering at ECMC and is being treated for smoke inhalation. She also works at the University at Buffalo.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
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Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.