My heart sunk weeks later when I read about her death. Feda Almaliti died after running back into her Fremont, California burning home on September 26, 2020 to try and rescue her autistic son, Muhammed.
She was found embracing him.
I didn’t know her personally, but I wept like a baby.
Feda escaped the fire with her sister Maysoon and niece Anais, but then they realized Muhammed was still inside an upstairs bedroom, Feda ran back into the house to look for her son, calling him by an affectionate nickname ‘Hammoudeh.’
In a devastating Facebook post, Feda’s sister describes “I can hear the popping of glass and the faint noises of Mu crying, ‘No,No,No’ in response to Feda pleading with him, “Hammoudeh, come on we have to go, now, we have to get out now!”
Fifteen year old Mu was too big for Feda to carry. She wrote further that “it’s easy to save a willing mind that can understand it is in danger. But “Mu” (who had severe autism), could not understand that he barely had anytime left to leave the house.”
In that moment, autism had become a fatal condition for them.
If you love and live for someone with severe autism, or an intellectual disability, take advantage of the vital work of the September 26th Project in honor of Feda and Muhammed that was created by the National Council on Severe Autism. The Project focuses on helping families with individuals who have disabilities in creating disaster preparedness plans, including fire safety, natural disaster and wandering prevention.
The goal is to have families mark their calendars for September 26th, or somewhere around this date, and conduct and review their safety checklists.