Leigh Chesney was relieved when her 14-year-old daughter, Layne, told her she was going to stay over at a friend’s house during a New Year’s Eve gathering in Fort Pierce where she was making s’mores with the family. Less to worry about given all those crazy drunk drivers on the roads after parties.
But then Chesney got tragic news when officers arrived at her door Sunday night. She knew something bad had happened.
“Police arrived at my house and told me there had been an accident,” Chesney told TC Palm. “I thought it was a car accident.”
Instead, Layne Chesney is in critical condition after suffering third-degree burns during a bonfire just before 10 p.m. Sunday. As of Tuesday evening, she was in a medically induced coma at the burn center at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami.
At a small New Year’s Eve gathering, the girl was huddled around a bonfire off the back porch of a friend’s house. The fire was dwindling so Layne, in an attempt to revive it, poured gasoline and the gas can exploded. Layne was engulfed in flames.
Her friend Hunter Holmes, 18, and his parents, Robert and Stephanie, tried to smother the flames by grabbing her with their hands and bodies. Layne, Hunter and Robert Holmes were airlifted to Kendall Regional Medical Center to treat their injuries.
But Layne’s injuries are grave, according to her mom. Ninety-five percent of her daughter’s body was affected by third-degree burns. She was able to tell the rescue team her name and address and mother’s phone number but was put into the coma by doctors by the time her mother got to the hospital.
“They are removing all skin to the muscle. She is in grave condition. The risk of infection is high,” Chesney told TC Palm. “Doctors are unsure whether she will survive her injuries. She is fighting hard. It is in God’s hands.”
Layne plays shortstop on the varsity softball team at Lincoln Park Academy, where she is a ninth-grader. Her teammates held a vigil Monday night.
“She’s outgoing and always makes everybody laugh,” Leigh Chesney told TC Palm.
A family friend set up a GoFundMe page on Monday to help pay for Layne’s medical expenses. So far, the fund has raised over $4,300 toward a $5,000 goal.