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5-year-old regains possession of grandfather’s ashes after leaving urn at Rite Aid

FORT KENT, Maine — Family members who lost their Fort Kent home and almost all of their belongings to fire on Saturday were able to retain a precious part of their heritage due to an unlikely set of circumstances that occurred three days earlier, when a woman found a small urn on a shelf at a local store.

Sandy Tagget of Fort Kent was shopping at the town’s Rite Aid on Wednesday afternoon when she came across an ornate, silver-colored urn containing ashes on a shelf in the toy aisle.

Friends and family help dig through the rubble for an urn which was lost when fire destroyed a home on St. John Road in Fort Kent. From left: Rachel Babin, Yvette Nadeau, Dwayne Kalloch and Dale Babin. (Jessica Potila)

At the suggestion of Rite Aid managers, Taggett brought the urn with the possibly human ashes to the Fort Kent police station. Police Chief Tom Pelletier posted a note on the department’s Facebook page in an effort to find the urn’s owner.

When Jayd Kelly of Fort Kent became aware of the post she realized that the urn most likely contained some of the ashes of her father, Steve Boucher, who passed away three years ago.

Kelly’s 5 year-old son Harley Kelly was close to his late pepere and carries the small urn with him wherever he goes, she said. The family had been shopping at Rite Aid on Wednesday and Jayd Kelly said her son must have set the urn down on a shelf when he became distracted by a toy.

Jayd Kelly retrieved the urn, which indeed contains some of her father’s ashes, from the police station on Thursday.

On Saturday afternoon, the Kelly family, including Jayde and her husband Darren Kelly, along with their son Harley and toddler daughter Stevie, were enjoying a sunny afternoon in the yard when a grass fire that started accidently nearby spread to the home and destroyed their St. John Road residence.

Jayd Kelly said she inherited the home, which had been in the family for generations, after her father’s passing.

“It was very special. My dad passed away in that house and so did his dad,” she said.

While waiting for firefighters to arrive, Jayd Kelly moved the family’s truck to a neighbor’s home. The small urn containing her father’s ashes which she picked up at the FKPD was still inside the truck, and was spared from the fire.

On Sunday, Jayd Kelly and several friends and family members searched through the rubble of the home with shovels in an attempt to locate a larger urn containing most of her father’s ashes. As the afternoon wore on without success, Jayd Kelly said she is glad her young son left the small urn with his pepere’s ashes in Rite Aid last week.

“Thankfully we had that in the pick-up so if we don’t find his large urn, we’re OK with that,” she said. “Either way, my dad’s with his homestead; he’s still here.”

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