Family struggles with loss of two loved ones in meth lab fire

Abernathy and Garbe (Source: Allen Pierson)
Abernathy and Garbe (Source: Allen Pierson)
Morgan Abernathy (Source: Allen Pierson)
Morgan Abernathy (Source: Allen Pierson)
Joseph Raeth (Photo provided by family)
Joseph Raeth (Photo provided by family)

GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - With pictures of 19-year-old Morgan Abernathy in their hands, June Guyer and her fiancee Allen Pierson say they're still trying to wrap their heads around losing their niece and her cousin in the same afternoon.

Abernathy is one of three people whose body was recovered after a fire at the Pine Harbour Apartment Complex in Goose Creek.

The coroner's office says authorities also found the bodies of 4-year-old Samuel Garbe and 69-year-old Joseph Raeth following the fire on Thursday.

Abernathy's family says the news was a shock and it still hasn't set in.

"You can't imagine something like this happening to your family," said Guyer. "This is how fast and how instant things can change."

Guyer said the teen could light up a room with her smile and could make anyone feel better.

Abernathy also loved kids which was why she was babysitting Garbe, her 4-year-old cousin, the morning of the fire.

"She babysat him now and then," said Pierson. "Every chance she'd get she'd be with him. They were basically two peas in a pod."

Around 12:30 in the afternoon Thursday, Deputies were called to the complex for a disturbance and found the roof of a row of apartment buildings smoking.

Soon after, fire ripped through 16 units of the complex, displacing 46 people and claiming Abernathy and Garbe's lives.

Funeral services for Samuel Austin Garbe were held at 2 p.m. on June 4 at the United Methodist Church on Red Bank Road in Goose Creek.

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office reported that a meth lab was found at the location of the fire in Apartment D80, where the bodies of Abernathy and Garbe were recovered.

"I don't think it's still really hit yet," said Guyer. "It's not full blown that they're gone."

Sheriff's office spokesman Dan Moon said investigators have questioned one man but he has since been released.  That man was in the same apartment as Garbe and Abernathy just before the explosion occurred, according to an incident report.

The report states the man was seen stumbling around outside the apartment with "eyes twitching."  That man reportedly told police, "I just left them there," before he was attacked by a group of angry residents who apparently blamed him for the blaze.

Moon said several others are also being questioned.

A fund to help Abernathy's family to offset the cost to lay her to rest has been set up at Carolina Memorial Gardens in North Charleston and a memorial fund has been set up in Samuel Garbe's name at any First Federal bank.

Funeral services will be held for Raeth at the Divine Redeemer Catholic Church in Hanahan Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m.

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