Northern Ireland

‘I would have given my life to save them’ - Alex Easton diagnosed with PTSD following parents’ death in house fire

Alex Easton's parents were initially removed form their Dellmount Park home by firefighters, but were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Alex Easton's parents died at their Co Down home in January 2023. PICTURE: LIAM MCBURNEY/PA

North Down assembly member Alex Easton has revealed he has been diagnosed with PTSD following the deaths of his elderly parents in a house fire.

One year on from the tragedy, the independent MLA has told of how he “got to the stage where I just didn’t want to be here”.

Alec and Ann Easton, both in their eighties, died following the blaze at their Bangor home in January 2023.

MLA Alex Easton has condemned a petrol bomb attack in Co Down (Liam McBurney/PA)
Independent MLA Alex Easton has spoke about the deaths of his parents one year on. PICTURE: LIAM MCBURNEY/PA

In an interview with Belfast Live, Mr Easton recalled that fateful day.

“It’s hard to actually get my head around the fact that today marks a year from that phone call from my parents’ carer, from dashing over to the house, from seeing a plume of smoke rising in the air and realising they were in terrible trouble, from seeing Mum and Dad lifeless, all hope gone,” he said.

“So much of it has been a blur, so much of it is just playing on a loop in my mind.

“I would’ve died for them, I know that now. I’ve gone over it so many times.

" If Dad had managed to call me and I’d got there on time, I would’ve been in that house trying to save him and Mum.

“I might have died too but I would have gladly given my life to save them and I wouldn’t have thought of the consequences.”

Forensic officers yesterday returned to a house in Bangor where a fire claimed the lives of Alec and Ann Easton, parents of Independent Unionist Alex Easton, on Monday. Picture by Hugh Russell
Forensic officers at the home of Alec and Ann Easton in January 2023. PICTURE: HUGH RUSSELL

Mr Easton said his struggle to cope has led to a PTSD and depression diagnosis.

“I couldn’t get on top of the grief and the trauma, of the flashbacks and the guilt of not being able to help them,” he said.

“I just didn’t have the energy or desire to be here and keep dealing with that.

“My GP called me and in May I started to talk to a counsellor and I also started medication. I was exhausted, but the meds finally gave me a night’s sleep for the first time in four or more months.”

Mr Easton also said the cause of the blaze was “inconclusive”.

He said the family suspect a heater in a bedroom was at fault, but “we’ll never know because the investigation was unable to pinpoint where or how the fire started”.