The parents of Colorado State men’s basketball forward Emmanuel Omogbo died Tuesday morning in a house fire in Chillum, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. Also killed in the fire were Omogbo’s niece and nephew, two-year-old twins.
Carolyn and Sampson Omobgo, Emmanuel’s parents and the children’s grandparents were pronounced dead at the scene, while the children were taken to a local hospital, where they were pronounced dead a short time later.
Prince George’s County firefighters responded to the 6700 block of Knollbrook Drive, where the blaze had erupted with seven people inside the home. The children’s mother escaped by jumping out a second-floor window, and the two other occupants of the house were able to escape safely as well.
“I saw the little kids being carried out in an ambulance,” neighbor Edmund Romero told NBC’s Washington affiliate. “I knew something bad had happened because the ambulance just left quietly.”
Prince George’s County Fire Department Chief Marc Bashoor told reporters that there was no evidence of smoke alarms in the home.
“This is absolutely heartbreaking for Emmanuel, his family and for all of us that know him,” Colorado State head coach Larry Eustachy said in a news release. “There are no words to describe how it felt to hear this terrible news earlier today. They were a beautiful family that I enjoyed getting to know. The entire Colorado State men’s basketball team, athletic program and University will be there to support and help Emmanuel in any way we can through this incredibly tough time in his life.”
Omogbo, who is in his first season with the Rams after playing two seasons at South Plains (TX) Junior College, practiced with the team Tuesday and traveled with the team for CSU’s conference matchup at in-state rival Air Force on Wednesday. He declined to comment through a school spokesperson.
CSU Compliance has urged fans to not fundraise on Omogbo’s behalf. It is not permissible per NCAA regulations to use a student-athlete’s platform to raise money, so any efforts to do so by fans and supporters could threaten his eligibility.
Athletic Director Joe Parker issued the following statement Wednesday:
“We appreciate the overwhelming concern and the offers of support for Emmanuel Omogbo and his family in response to the tragedy they have experienced. We have received many inquiries from people asking how they can help. We want to assure them that there are a number of ways that the athletic department can provide assistance as well as coordinate external efforts to help Emmanuel and his family. When those details have been confirmed, we will share that information. At this time, our focus remains on providing the right support around Emmanuel and helping him make decisions that are best for him and his family.”
The athletic department will inform fans and supporters about opportunities and channels to assist Omogbo without violating any NCAA regulations when they decide the time is appropriate.
The 6-foot-8 Omogbo, who was born in Nigeria but spent most of his childhood in Hyattsville, Maryland, has started all 18 games he’s played at CSU and is averaging 11.4 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Rams.
Collegian Senior Sports Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.