The 17-year-old and his 12-year-old brother were rushed to the hospital last Friday morning. The 12-year-old later died at the hospital while the older brother was in critical condition.
Just months before his high school graduation, Cortez Verell was just 17 and was about to graduate from high school in Detroit. He had been accepted to two community colleges and was considering joining the Marines. Until the fire intervened.
The 17-year-old and his brother were both trapped inside the home Friday morning. 12-year-old Quartez Friday morning, not long after the fire. Cortez died as well.
Michael Khoury is the president of Detroit Cristo Rey high school where Cortez was a senior.
"He was a quiet young man but he also had a sense of humor and enjoyed laughing and was really liked by his classmates," Khoury said.
A cloud of grief hung over the school with some even heading home when they heard the news. Others stayed to meet with counselors.
" When you're young and you feel full of life and very excited about your future, to have something like this happen, it's really difficult to watch students as they deal with the pain," Khoury said.
The family has two daughters who are sophomores at the school. They weren't home at the time of the fire.
Khoury said he's visited the family to let them know the school is praying for them.
The school has set up a fund to help the family with medical expenses, burial expenses, and relocation expenses. If you want to help, click here to donate.
The fire started in the front of the house. The boys were sleeping upstairs at the time. Neighbors say the mother said a space heater was warming the home.
Investigators have not concluded what caused the fire, but neighbors believe it was electrical due to the space heater.