An Ohio pastor and father of eight died while trying to save his two sons from a fire that engulfed their family home in Orient shortly after midnight Tuesday.
Pastor Mark Robinette is being remembered as a hero after saving his wife and two children from a house fire.
“He pushed some of them out the window but he was determined he was going to get them all out and if there was a way he would have,” Mark’s brother-in-law, Geoffrey Trapani, told WBNS-TV.
The 55-year-old ran back inside to save two of the family’s sons, Gideon Robinette, 17, and Liam Robinette, 10, but they never came out.
Authorities later found the father holding his two sons.
“He was found holding onto them both. The three of them never made it out,” said Haley McGuire, Robinette’s cousin.
The late pastor and his wife had raised eight children, two of them adopted.
Robinette served in ministry for nearly 23 years doing missions work in Myanmar and founded Foundation Church in 2000, according to the church’s website.
The pastor’s brother, Paul Robinette, announced his passing in a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon.
“Last night around midnight, my brother Mark Robinette lost his life trying to save the lives of two of his children. A fire broke out in the house,” Robinett began. “Mark was able to get Andrea and two children who were sleeping upstairs out of the house to safety, but when he tried to rescue the other two children who were still in their bedrooms upstairs, they all perished in the fire. Please keep his wife Andrea Trapani Robinette and the children in your prayers.”
Liam is remembered as a sweet boy who “everyone loved” and Gideon was getting ready to go college with aspirations of being a pastor like his fighter, WBNS-TV reported.
“You don’t think there are perfect kids but they would come close as you could find,” Trapani said.
A vigil was organized for the family Tuesday evening and two GoFundMe pages have been started for the family.
“Their house and all of their belongings were completely destroyed, and it is the dead of winter. They are left with the night clothes they were wearing and their vehicle and that is all,” reads the fundraising page.
They’ve lost everything,” Mike Comer, another of the pastor’s cousins, told WLBT. “There are a lot of needs. They don’t even have shoes…They’re going to need some help, but they need our prayers and anything we can do for them.”
To date, the fundraising pages have raised a combined $182,460.
Authorities reported the fire started at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined and remains under investigation by the State’s Fire Marshal office.
Meanwhile, tributes honoring Robinette are pouring in.
“Mark was just so much to so many people, his foundation and his mission work. He was going and building churches in Myanmar,” Comer said.
“Mark was a fierce and impassioned defender of the vulnerable, with a special motivation to serve God, his family and church, the people of Myanmar, and the unborn,” wrote the Greater Columbus Right to Life in a statement this week. “He, his beloved wife Andrea, their eight children, and members of their church were not just stalwart sidewalk advocates — they were like family to many of our team.”
A funeral service will be held for Robinette and his two sons Saturday at Foundation Church.
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