By LEE REVIS
Valdez Star 

Exploding gas can on go-cart blamed for burn injuries on two riders

Two cousins were flown to Seattle burn unit from Valdez after Sunday's accident

 

Steve Revis photo

A young Valdez man and his 11-year-old cousin were critically burned Sunday after the go cart the two were riding in caught fire on Woodside Dr, off of Copper St.

A Sunday ride in a go-cart turned sinister when two young people were critically injured after a gasoline can exploded on a go-cart they were riding.

Relatives say Valdez man Nathan Long, age 19, and his cousin, 11-year-old April Dudley, were medevacked from Valdez to the burn center at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle Sunday.

Dudley was visiting from Texas.

"Nathan was able to free them both from seatbelts and helmets and put out the flames on both of them," Long's mother, Jt Ferguson, said Sunday in a post on a GoFundMe page set up to help the families defray costs while their children are in the out-of-state hospital. "but not before they both had severe burns."

While insurance is expected to pick up the majority of the tab for medical treatment, expenses add up quickly for parents while their kids are in the hospital.

"It's eating us alive on travel expenses," Ferguson said in a phone interview Tuesday morning, noting that jobs must be put on hold while family members are away to tend to their injured kids.

Both face an uphill climb on the road to recovery of their burns.

"They'll be in the burn ICU here for at least several days," Long's mother said Sunday in a Facebook post. That time estimate was later changed to at least two weeks, though it could be even longer.

Ferguson described the injuries the two are struggling to overcome on the GoFundMe page named "Expenses for Burn Treatment" that contains a graphic photo of Long's injured face.

"April has burns all down her left side and she's currently undergoing treatment to relieve some of the pressure from the swelling because she's losing feeling to her hand," Ferguson's post says. "She will have surgery later this week to graft skin on some of the deeper burns."


Long, a Valdez High School alumni, is experiencing other difficulties.

Ferguson said that the family is very proud of Long and his actions following the explosion.

"I'm incredibly proud of Nathan," she said. "He went back into the flames to get April out."

Ferguson also said the family has much to be grateful for during this time of crisis.

The distraught mother said the staff at Providence Valdez Medical Center, employees of Ravn Air and all the well-wishers in Valdez have all contributed to make the tragedy more bearable.

When the medical flight took off from Valdez with Nathan and April, there was no room for Ferguson inside the air ambulance.

Ravn Air held up the commercial flight to Anchorage to allow Ferguson to get on board and on her way to her son's bedside in Seattle as fast as possible.

The airline even arranged to let her off the Valdez flight first so she could connect to the first flight to Seattle as fast as possible – and incredibly she arrived about three hours after the medical flight landed.

She also said the staff at the hospital acted quickly to get the two out of Valdez to Harborview, often referred to as the best burn unit on the West Coast.

"We are very touched by the financial and moral support of the community," she said. "We definitely appreciate all the prayers."

Steve Revis photo

Two people that were riding on the small motorized vehicle were flown to the burn center at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after a gas can exploded.

 

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