April 18 was a warm spring-like day just after Easter in 2017.
Jamie Bosley, of East Palestine, remembers that because her kids were using Peeps from their Easter baskets instead of marshmallows to toast in their first backyard bonfire of the season.
With her older brother and her parents nearby, then 3-year-old Ashlyn lost her balance and tumbled into the fire pit, which, by then, had progressed from active flames to hot coals.
She landed on her hands, arms, chest, chin and cheek. Her parents, just 6 feet away, quickly scooped her up. At first, Ashlyn screamed. Then as shock set in, she was rendered silent.
“It happened that fast and then everything was in slow motion,” said Jamie. “Her skin was coming off so the only thing I could think was to cool her down.”
For a few days, the family worried about Ashlyn losing her fingers, which had blackened, and she soon underwent the first of 5 skin graft surgeries. As days turned into weeks for Ashlyn’s inpatient stay in the burn center, Jamie came to realize her daughter’s burn injuries – even though they could have been much worse – would still impact her daughter for years to come.
Ashlyn, now 4, still returns to the burn center for check-ups and regularly sees Diane Woods, an occupational therapist. On a recent visit, Diane and Ashlyn were working with a therapeutic putty to help extend the range of motion in her fingers. For Ashlyn, it wasn’t “therapy” but play as she stretched the putty and formed it around colorful plastic pieces.
Dr. John Crow, chair of the Department of Surgery and a long-time burn surgeon, said Akron Children’s treats at least a few children every summer for burns associated with backyard fire pits.
“It can happen so quickly,” he said. “With young children, you almost need to hold their hand at all times whenever they are near a fire.”
Ashlyn’s burn nurses and therapists repeatedly called her a “trooper” as she remained sweet and cheerful even when most of her body was covered in burn dressings and even when she underwent the painful skin grafts.
“Don’t take anything for granted,” said Jamie. “Looking back on all of this past year, I feel like we are the luckiest non-lucky people.”
Watch the Fox 8 news story about her below.