A mother ran back into her burning home to die alongside her 15 year-old son with autism after he was unable to escape the flames. Feda Almaliti and her son Muhammed perished in a house fire in Fremont, California, on Monday.
Sarah Trautman, Feda’s friend, said that when firefighters looked through the damage, they found them together. ‘She was embracing Muhammed,’ Trautman said.
‘Muhammed was the center of her universe,’ Trautman said. ‘She couldn’t exist in a world without him, and he couldn’t exist in a world without her.’ Almaliti had left the house first, but went back inside to save her son, who had a severe form of autism, Trautman said. A neighbor, Lavelle Botelho, said that firefighters responded by trying to tear the roof off the house to save them.
‘They got the chainsaws going, the roof, they were trying to cut it,’ Botelho said. ‘They pulled two people out.’ The fire allegedly started in the kitchen, but the cause is still under investigation by the Fremont Fire Department.
Trautman said that Feda was well respected in the area for speaking out for people with autism, but Muhamed was the focus of her life. Trautman is also a trained behavior analyst who produced podcasts on autism and activism with Almaliti.
In one one interview, Almaliti described her deep affection toward caring for children with autism. ‘I love kids with autism, obviously,’ Almaliti said. ‘And I care about them and I want them to all get the treatment that they deserve. I didn’t want one more family, you know, to go through all those sleepless nights not knowing if their kids are going to make progress or if they can get the therapy for them.’
Almaliti even helped get a bill passed in California that requires insurance companies to cover treatment for those with autism.