When Shane Bontz and his son Draven were burning leaves this past Sunday, little did they know their late afternoon spent in their yard would change their lives forever.
Draven was outside with his sister and a friend of his father’s when Shane stepped inside to get something.
With the fire beginning to go down, Draven thought he’d help by grabbing a gas can off the back steps. As he went to dump some on the fire, a trail of gas ignited, causing an explosion.
“I heard the explosion,” Shane Bontz said. “My daughter was screaming ‘my bubba is on fire.’”
The shaken up, single father of two said Draven ran into the house while still on fire and into the family’s bathroom.
Dirty clothes were then used to put out the fire and his pants, which were smoking from the flames, were ripped off.
“When we did that, we could see the damage on his leg,” Shane Bontz said.
Draven’s dad then called 911. The 6-year-old was air lifted from Van-Far High School and taken to Mercy Hospital in St. Louis.
His dad says Draven has second and third degree burns on most of his left leg, focused on the mid-thigh to his ankle.
These burns will require skin grafts, which are scheduled for Thursday.
Draven also has first and second degree burns on his face and his left arm. No skin grafts are scheduled as of yet for that area.
The first grader is expected to remain in the hospital for at least three weeks. His dressing is being changed two times a day on his leg while the dressing for his arm will be changed every three days.
“He’s doing real well,” Shane Bontz said about Draven, who is also the son of Sarah Branstetter. “He’s in real good spirits. He’s being a real trooper about it…When I went to the school today, he told me to tell his buddies, don’t play with fire.”
For Shane Bontz, the health of his son is not the only thing on his mind. He recently lost his job at the Fire Brick Cafe when the Vandalia restaurant recently closed its doors.
With the concerns of bills piling up along with the expenses of traveling between Vandalia and St. Louis, his family has stepped in to organize efforts to help the Bontz family through this difficult time.
His cousin Julie Telken organized a fundraising effort through the gofundme.com website. The exact URL link is http://www.gofundme.com/5jy0wk.
In the first 12 hours, 43 people donated $3,290. The site’s goal was orginally $4,000 and it was almost reached on the first day.
His sister Crystal Bontz, whose daughter Jocie had her own scary experience with fire a couple of years ago that was featured in The Vandalia Leader, is working on some upcoming fundraisers to help her brother’s family.
“I am beside myself with all the help and love we are receiving,” Shane Bontz said on the gofundme.com website. “I love all of you and God bless you angels sent to help us in our time of need. My tears of sorrow have turned to tears of joy. We appreciate this more than you guys could ever imagine. Keep us in your prayers still as we will thank you in ours.”