Napakiak says goodbye to residents who died in jail fire

Family members decorate the grave sites of Becca White and Isaiah Parka. (Photo by Krysti Shallenberger / KYUK)

The Napakiak Moravian church was packed on Wednesday, May 8, as people came to say their final goodbyes to two residents who died in a fire in the city jail last week.

Two white caskets completely covered in flowers and pictures lie at the front of the Napakiak Moravian church. People slowly file in. Some by themselves, others in groups. The small blue church fills up. Some people stand at the back.

They are here to say goodbye to Becca White and Isaiah Parka, who both died when the Napakiak jail burned down. In a community of 300, any death is a tough occasion. But how this young man and young woman died left many reeling. People didn’t want to talk on the record to KYUK because they are still grieving. There is anger and confusion, and there are questions about how this fire could have happened.

White and Parka were best friends. They were described as soft-spoken and never far apart from each other. The two had been picked up for driving a four-wheeler while intoxicated on Saturday, April 27. The fire broke out later that night. One jail guard tried to free the two trapped inside, but was badly burnt and later medevaced. The investigation into the exact cause of the fire is still ongoing.

The community cleared away the charred timbers and steel, and two small, white crosses mark the place where White and Parka died.

Becca White was 24 and leaves a three-year-old daughter, Mary Alice. Isaiah Parka was 22.

After the funeral, people followed the two trucks with the coffins toward the cemetery. Their crosses now rest next to each other. In death, as in life, Becca White and Isaiah Parka are inseparable.

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