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Carlos battles back after tragedy

PUBLISHED: 12:45 01 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:36 03 March 2010

IPSWICH teenager Carlos Aguilar is nothing short of an inspiration.

Faced with the most horrific of circumstances - his family's death in a fire - Carlos looks set to make a success of his life.

IPSWICH teenager Carlos Aguilar is nothing short of an inspiration.

Faced with the most horrific of circumstances - his family's death in a fire - Carlos looks set to make a success of his life.

Two years ago the brave youngster left Ipswich to start a new life in South Carolina, USA, with his doting aunt Maria Steward and uncle Shannon at a military base.

He went with them when the pair were later posted to Azores, a group of islands off Portugal, where he is now and is a top student gaining straight A's at an American base school.

His loving grandfather Frank, 60, who lives in Ipswich, took Carlos in after the fire with his wife Antonia, 59, said: "We are so proud of him.

"He has adjusted well to his new life. He was a boy before, but he is a real man now. He is a natural in everything he touches."

The fire, in September 1998, claimed the lives of Carlos's mum, Ana, 31, and brothers Isaac, 11 and nine-year-old Judah.

Carlos suffered burns and smoke inhalation but amazingly he picked himself up and battled through, returning to school at Stoke High just three months after the tragedy.

Talking of his life now, the remarkably mature 16-year-old told The Star: "I have changed in outlook. I realised if you put your head down in school when that is over you can do what you want to in life."

He said that it was hard at first adjusting to his new life abroad but soon settled into his new home with his aunt and uncle and cousins Sophie, 16 and Suzanna, 15.

Carlos, who has kept in touch with friends and family in England and recently enjoyed a two-month stay in Ipswich.

He visited his family, including aunt Lolly Jay and uncle David, his friends and even took a visit back to his old school, Stoke High, as well as enjoying trips out.

Lolly said: "He is a lovely boy, caring, always thinking of others apart from himself.

"He first blamed himself about the fire and we had a tough time trying to persuade him that it wasn't him.

"I think he grew up more quickly. He has now put it all behind him and moved on, although he will never forget them."

Carlos's hobbies include daily workouts at the gym, basketball and cross country running.

He future plans include going on to college before eventually taking up a career in either accountancy or business or joining the American airforce.

It is possible next year his family might move to Japan or even back to England.

Speaking to The Star from Azores, Carlos gave a message to his friends back home and said; "Say hi to them all. I am always thinking of them and can't wait to see them again."

Carlos

FACT FILE:

n The fire at the family home at 25, Lanercost Way, in the Stoke Park area of Ipswich, broke out shortly after 5am on September 22, 1998.

n Neighbours were awoken to the sounds of screaming and glass shattering. On seeing a child at an upstairs window, neighbour Tony Moss got a ladder and tried to encourage the lad to escape, saying he would catch him but the child said he couldn't leave his mother.

n Carlos, 13-years-old at the time tried in vain to rescue his mother and two younger brothers from the inferno and he ended up in intensive care fighting for his own life.

n The horrific blaze was thought to have been started by a decorative candle.

n Carlos had a friend Luke Norris staying over the night and the pair were sleeping downstairs. It was believed that Luke managed to escape and raise the alarm.

n Carlos was a pupil at Stoke High School and his head teacher, Martin Liddle praised his heroism and said the bravery he showed was true to character.

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