By KATHLEEN KRELLER - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Loverde celebrated his 65th birthday Wednesday night with his family, an event he might have missed if not for the fast action of strangers.
On Saturday, Loverde's face, left hand and clothes caught fire while he was working on a generator atop his funnel cake stand at the Winterland Parade in downtown Meridian.
"The cap blew off in my hand and the fuel flew into my face," Loverde said. "It just happened in one split second. It blew up."
Then he either fell or jumped from the roof of the roughly 8-foot-tall trailer.
After he rolled on the ground, Loverde said he grabbed a water bottle to put out the fire.
That's when bystanders intervened, using their hands to smother the flames on Loverde.
When Meridian police Cpl. Branden Fiscus got to the concession stand, he used a fire extinguisher to put out the 4-foot flames on top of the trailer.
"It wasn't like I charged a machine gun nest or anything," Fiscus said.
Bystanders took Loverde into a nearby restaurant on Idaho Street, where a nurse used cold, wet rags to soothe the burns.
Loverde suffered second-degree burns to the left side of his face and his left hand and wrist and some scrapes and bruises from his fall.
Bob Athay of Meridian was working in his son's nut concession stand next door. He and two other men rushed to help Loverde and had to wrestle him to the ground to keep him from climbing back up the ladder to put out the fire.
"It looked a whole lot worse than it actually turned out," Athay said. "When Bill hit the ground, the left side of his face, his left shoulder and part of his left arm were on fire."
At first, Loverde was a pretty gruesome sight, said Meridian resident Erika Dennis, who said she was at the scene of the accident with her young daughter.
That Loverde survived and will make a full recovery is a "Christmas miracle," Dennis said.
No doubt Loverde was lucky, said Meridian Fire Department Chief Joe Silva.
"One of the things that really worked well here is that he covered his nose and mouth and turned away from the flames," Silva said. "Bill was lucky that he had some people instinctively do the right thing. They had to put the flames out."
Silva also praised Fiscus' fast action to extinguish the generator fire. He said the city of Meridian is looking into special recognition for the citizens who helped.
Silva said his praise of the bystanders also comes with a lesson for the public: Never put gas in a running engine. If you catch fire, the best tactic is to stop, drop and roll, Silva said.
Loverde was treated at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. Burn specialists from Salt Lake City consulted via video camera, Loverde said.
He was treated Monday at the burn center in Salt Lake City. His doctors say he'll recover 100 percent and have little or no scarring.
In the meantime, Loverde has physical therapy, pain pills and lots of ointment. He also has gratitude for the people who helped him.
"I just don't have words to thank them for what they have done," Loverde said. "It would have been a whole lot worse. The burns would have been worse and I could have been dead."
Will Loverde, Bill's son, also wanted to thank the man who kept his father from climbing back onto the roof of the trailer.
"Dad got a little upset with him and feels bad," Will Loverde said. "He wants to apologize to him."
Incidents like the one reported above happen all too often due many times as a result of defective products that are unreasonably dangerous.
There are two potential claims of relief and/or causes of action regarding this type incident. The first may be a claim for worker's compensation if the injuried party was working at the time of the accident. If a person is injured due to an industrial accident, the worker should immediately contact the Idaho Industrial Commission and complete and file a Form 1 Notice of Injury to preserve the worker's right to workers' compensation. Failure to do so within 60 days of the accident could result in a complete bar to any benefits including the costs of medical treatment, impairment and/or disability.
The second possible claim may be against the product manufacturer if the product was defective and unreasonably dangerous. The statute of limitations for personal injury in Idaho is two years from the date of the act, omission or occurrence complained of. Failure to file a lawsuit prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations could act as a complete bar to any recovery.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an accident, it is recommended that you seek out the advice of competent counsel.
In order for change to occur, we need to take action to prevent injuries to others. Holding those responsible encourages that change and promotes a safer and better place to live in our community.
CONTACT INFORMATION: If you or a family member have been injured or damaged due to the fault or responsibility of someone else, an industrial accident or by a dangerous or defective product, drug or toxic substance, contact Alan Morton for a no obligation, free consultation.
For additional information contact:
Alan L. Morton
MORTON LAW OFFICES, CHARTERED
1005 North Eighth Street
Post Office Box 420
Boise, ID 83701-0420
Toll Free: 866.946.1669 [866.WIN.1.NOW]