MOUNT PLEASANT, N.C. -- Three teens were hospitalized after suffering burns at a Mount Pleasant bonfire party Saturday night when a man reportedly poured flammable liquid onto a drum-barrel fire, causing the liquid to burst into flames, witnesses say.
Kendall Bolton, 16, Nathan Honeycutt, 16, and Kris Holland, 16, are at North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill recovering from burn injuries, a hospital staff member said. All three are listed in good condition.
The three had initially been taken to Carolinas Medical Center NorthEast.
Kenny Bolton, Kendall’s father, said his daughter has first- and second-degree burns on her face and left hand, and may face surgery. She was sent home from CMC-NorthEast, but was readmitted Monday after she couldn’t stop vomiting, her father said. She then was transferred to Chapel Hill via ambulance.
Bolton said the girl’s mother and he both have taken off work and have been traveling back and forth between their Mount Pleasant home and Chapel Hill.
He said Kendall’s swelling is expected to subside somewhat by the weekend, and they will know more about her prognosis then.
“We can only pray she gets better,” he said. “I mean, time will tell.”
She and the other victims were at a party that took place at 3730 Barrier Store Road, Mount Pleasant, according to an incident report from the Cabarrus County Sheriff's Office.
A Facebook posting for the party showed more than 3,800 invitations, including one for Bolton.
Witnesses say an unidentified man poured a liquid, possibly gasoline, out of a two-liter soda bottle and onto the fire. The fire climbed into the bottle and caused it to explode, catching bystanders on fire.
No arrest has been made in the incident.
Donnalee Parkin, whose son Brad dates Kendall Bolton, said her son's jacket caught on fire, while Bolton's face was burned in the sudden flash of flames.
“If he didn’t have his coat on, he would be a burn victim right now,” she said.
She is angry deputies didn't arrest the man who allegedly poured the liquid on the fire, and she wrote an open letter to Cabarrus County Sheriff Brad Riley asking for his agency to make an arrest in the incident.
"If this was one of your family members of friend you know you would not let this person walk for what he has done, so do the same for these 3 victims and take charge and arrest the man and charge him," she wrote, adding as many as 50 people saw the incident happen.
The Cabarrus County Fire Marshall’s Office on Tuesday announced they have an open investigation into the incident, according to a press release from the agency.
They say they are examining materials collected at the scene and will use witness interviews to help determine what happened Saturday night.
So far, there is no indication of criminal activity, according to the announcement.
Sheriff Riley said his office will become involved in the investigation if the fire marshal’s office finds evidence of criminal activity.
“Anytime it involves a fire, then naturally the fire marshal’s office is going to handle that investigation until they would find that a criminal act has occurred, and then they would bring us into that,” he said. “The bottom line is that their kid got hurt and they want answers and they deserve answers, and that’s what the investigation is for. The fire professionals are going to look into that and make a determination.”
“If they get to a point in that investigation that they make a determination that there was something criminal, then they would involve us,” he added.
Riley pointed out even if there are no criminal charges, the fire marshal’s report can be used by insurance companies and the families for civil claims.
“I just want justice right now for my child,” Kenny Bolton said. “I want whoever did this to come forward. … There’s no way you’ve got a thousand-some people and no one knows who this gentlemen is.”
“I just want him to realize what he has done to my child and these other two kids,” he added. “He needs to come forward and face what he’s done.”
Parkin has partnered with Club Fitness at 349 Copperfield Blvd. NE, Concord, to take donations to the Bolton family. She said the family needs donations of gas gift cards, food and other necessities while they stay out of town and out of work.
Stan Woodruff, general manager for Club Fitness in Concord, said donations will be accepted at the front of the store.
Contact reporter Tim Reaves at 704-789-9131