North Carolina homeschooler, 12, suffers horrific burns during science experiment

North Carolina homeschooler, 12, suffers second and third-degree burns after setting himself ablaze while attempting science experiment with rubbing alcohol and Bunsen burner

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A 12-year-old boy who is home-schooled suffered horrific second and third-degree burns to 50 percent of his body after a science experiment went badly wrong. 

Barrett McKim is recovering in the ICU at the Burn Care Center in Augusta, Georgia after he set himself on fire at his home in Highland, North Carolina, five weeks ago during an experiment utilizing rubbing alcohol and Bunsen burner.

Further details on the experiment have not emerged, although rubbing alcohol and Bunsen burners are very commonly used for a wide range of chemistry experiments.  

His mother, Caroline McKim, said she heard a ‘loud pop’ before Barrett came running out with his ‘whole body on fire.’

Caroline rushed to his rescue, trying to extinguish the flames as Barrett asked ‘Mommy tell me the truth, am I going to die?’

The pair were life-flighted to the Augusta hospital were Barrett has undergone 10 surgeries, with the latest involving extensive skin grafts.

Caroline, who suffered severe burns to her hands and arms during her attempted rescue, just recently gained movement back in her hands and is working on physical therapy. 

Barrett McKim (left) is recovering in the ICU at the Burn Care Center in Augusta, Georgia after he set himself on fire at his home in Highland, North Carolina, five weeks ago during an experiment utilizing rubbing alcohol and Bunsen burner

Barrett McKim (left) is recovering in the ICU at the Burn Care Center in Augusta, Georgia after he set himself on fire at his home in Highland, North Carolina, five weeks ago during an experiment utilizing rubbing alcohol and Bunsen burner

Barrett suffered horrific second and third-degree burns to 50 percent of his body after the science experiment went badly wrong

Barrett suffered horrific second and third-degree burns to 50 percent of his body after the science experiment went badly wrong

Barrett, who loves science, suffered burns to his neck, torso, arms, hands and thighs on June 23 after a science experiment blew up in his face.

The Bunsen burner he was using ignited a bottle of rubbing alcohol, another component of the experiment, causing the 12-year-old boy to become engulfed in flames. 

‘I thought something had fallen or something had cracked, maybe like a glass,’ Caroline told WRDW-TV earlier this month. ‘And I got up, and as I was going to the front of the house, he came running out on fire, and his whole body is on fire.’

Caroline grabbed nearby pillows and started beating Barrett with them in an unsuccessful effort to put out the blaze.

‘It would not go out; the fire would not go out,’ she recalled. ‘I tried to get him down on the floor to get him to roll, and it would not go out.

‘So, I just screamed out to God to give me some direction on what to do. We were right next to the kitchen, so I just put him on the floor next to the sink and I got the sprayer from the sink, and I just started spraying him down. 

‘Barrett, at this point, was just asking me, “Am I going to die? Am I going to die? Mommy tell me the truth, am I going to die?”‘

His mother said she heard a 'loud pop' before Barrett came running out with his 'whole body on fire.' She rushed to his rescue, trying to extinguish the flames as Barrett asked 'Mommy tell me the truth, am I going to die?¿

His mother said she heard a ‘loud pop’ before Barrett came running out with his ‘whole body on fire.’ She rushed to his rescue, trying to extinguish the flames as Barrett asked ‘Mommy tell me the truth, am I going to die?’

He was life-flighted to the Augusta hospital were Barrett has undergone 10 surgeries, with the latest involving extensive skin grafts

He was life-flighted to the Augusta hospital were Barrett has undergone 10 surgeries, with the latest involving extensive skin grafts

Caroline called 911 and continued to spray water on Barrett until the ambulance arrived, the family has said. The pair were flown from their North Carolina home to the burn center in Augusta.

‘He did not have any skin. From his fingertips down to his knees. And some parts were white. Just white,’ Caroline said of his initial injuries.

She added: ‘He was wearing his goggles during this experiment, which we think saved his eyes.’ 

It is unclear what type of experiment he was conducting at the time of the accident, bar that it involved rubbing alcohol and a Bunsen burner.  

Now, five weeks after the tragic accident, Barrett is making ‘great strides’ in what will be a years-long journey to recovery.

‘A couple of times a day, we’re getting up and out of the bed, trying to walk and move, and he’s doing really well,’ the boy’s father, Kyle McKim, told WLOS Thursday.

‘He continues to fight through the pain, and he forces himself to do physical therapy, so he’s doing well there.’

In his most recent surgery, surgeons utilized healthy skin from his back and thighs to create grafts on for the damaged tissue

In his most recent surgery, surgeons utilized healthy skin from his back and thighs to create grafts on for the damaged tissue

Barrett just this week managed to walk up-and-down a set of stairs, which his parents alleged was a significant improvement

Barrett just this week managed to walk up-and-down a set of stairs, which his parents alleged was a significant improvement

Once home Barrett will still be in recovery mode, needing to wear bandages, receive physical therapy and be treated for his pain

Once home Barrett will still be in recovery mode, needing to wear bandages, receive physical therapy and be treated for his pain

Barrett has already endured 10 surgeries, with his most recent having occurred on Wednesday. Surgeons performed a skin graft utilizing healthy tissue from his body.

‘They ended up taking skin from the back of his thighs that were not burned, his entire back. Then, on the front of his thighs, he had had second-degree burns that had actually healed, and they took skin from the healed second-degree burns for his grafts,’ Caroline explained.

The family is taking Barrett’s recovery day-by-day, but says doctors are optimistic he may be eligible for discharge from the hospital in the next week or two. 

Barrett just this week managed to walk up-and-down a set of stairs, which his parents alleged was a significant improvement. 

‘This is a very long road. We’re, hopefully, on the downward slope of being in the hospital,’ Caroline said.

However, once home Barrett will still be in recovery mode, needing to wear bandages, receive physical therapy and be treated for his pain. 

‘We’re probably looking at, from what we’re hearing, probably an 18-month to two-year road of some of the ongoing physical therapy,’ Kyle told the TV station.

His mother, Caroline, suffered severe burns to her hands and arms during her attempted rescue. She just recently gained movement back in her hands and is in physical therapy

His mother, Caroline, suffered severe burns to her hands and arms during her attempted rescue. She just recently gained movement back in her hands and is in physical therapy

Barrett, who spoke to WLOS-TV on Wednesday, said he is starting to feel better

Barrett, who spoke to WLOS-TV on Wednesday, said he is starting to feel better

Barrett said he is most looking forward to seeing his brothers and sisters when he is discharged from the hospital, which could happen as early as next week

Barrett said he is most looking forward to seeing his brothers and sisters when he is discharged from the hospital, which could happen as early as next week

Barrett, who spoke to WLOS-TV on Wednesday, said he is starting to feel better.

‘Hey there Barrett, how are you feeling?’ reporter Hannah Mackenzie asked.

He replied, in a faint voice: ‘Ok.’

‘What are you looking forward to most when you get out of the hospital?’ she further probed.

‘Probably seeing my brothers and sisters,’ Barrett answered. ‘And archery. I do archery practice every week. I really like that.’

The McKim family said they feel very blessed over the outpour of support they have received during this process.

A GoFundMe account created to help with Barrett’s medical expenses had raised more than $152,000 by Friday evening. 

The family also shared how people from across the nation have sent cards to the hospital to help bring Barrett some joy.

‘We have received cards from people in Colorado, in Michigan, Hawaii, people that we don’t even know that are just saying, “We’re praying for you and we’re thinking about you and we hope you get better,”‘ Caroline shared.

Kyle added: ‘We’re very grateful. As hard as it’s been, we continue to count our blessings with what the Lord has done with his healing and protection for us.’

Caroline noted that she is also started to recover from her own injuries sustained during the accident, saying: ‘I’m working on the physical therapy, just to get the movement back and just be able to grip again and that sort of thing.’ 

A GoFundMe account created to help with Barrett's medical expenses had raised more than $152,000 by Friday evening

A GoFundMe account created to help with Barrett’s medical expenses had raised more than $152,000 by Friday evening

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