Boy who set himself on fire with paint thinners tells of his horror
AN 11-YEAR-OLD boy who set himself alight with paint thinners has spoken of his horror for the first time.
Owen Shepherd told how doctors feared he would lose both feet after he was airlifted to the burns unit at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
He had been playing with the chemicals and a lighter when they exploded, causing 20 per cent burns to his face, arms and legs.
Owen was saved by the quick actions of care worker Gayle Brown, who dashed from her car to roll him in the snow.
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He said: "I remember getting the paint thinner out and lighting it.
"It must have caught fire, then just exploded.
"I remember, after it happened, running down the alley shouting 'help' and putting my hair out."
Owen set himself on fire while playing near Belgrave Flats in Bridlington.
As he fled screaming down the street, he was spotted by Gayle, 38.
Owen said: "I remember a lady coming out and shouting, 'Get on the floor'.
"She chucked me on the floor because I said it hurt too much."
An ambulance took Owen to Hildethorpe Primary School, where he was transferred into a waiting RAF helicopter.
The Bridlington Sports College pupil was joined by his mother Hayley, 42, and taken to Pinderfields. He said: "They took me into a room to have a look then they bandaged my legs up.
"The bottoms of my legs were swollen like they were really tight and really hard.
"I nearly lost both my feet."
Owen needed skin grafts on his legs after suffering the burns on Thursday, January 17.
Doctors also operated on one of his hands.
He was allowed home last weekend but is still in hospital from Monday to Friday.
The dressings on his legs have to be changed every day.
But Owen said he was feeling much better and had learnt a lesson about playing with fire.
He said: "My hand is OK and my right leg is a lot better but my left leg is still a bit bad. My face is a lot, lot better.
"I won't touch a lighter again."
Hayley spoke of the relief at seeing her son on the mend.
She said: "They let him come home at the weekend now but they're keeping him in during the week while his legs get better.
"He has got to have them re-dressed every day.
"I looked at his legs yesterday and I think they're healing really well."
Speaking soon after her son was injured, Hayley praised Gayle's work putting him out.
She said: "Next time I see Gayle, I will give her a great big thank-you hug.
"If she had not put him out, he would not be here today."
But Gayle was modest about what she did.
She said: "Anybody else would have done the same.
"I was in overdrive from the adrenaline. My heart was nearly coming out of my chest."