Halifax paramedic, daughter seriously injured in Christmas Day explosion
Posted December 30, 2015 5:12 p.m. EST
Updated December 30, 2015 6:18 p.m. EST
Roanoke Rapids, N.C. — A paramedic coming off a 78-hour shift is fighting for her life after being critically injured in an explosion outside her home on Christmas Day. Her youngest daughter was also seriously hurt.
Fire officials said they believe Lorrie Williams, a single mother of five girls and a paramedic for Gaston and Halifax counties, may have mistakenly added a can containing gasoline to a controlled burn in her backyard, thinking it was an empty can of kerosene.
“I ran outside, and my mom was just covered in flames,” 14-year-old Alexis Williams said. “She was trying to roll – stop, drop and roll – and I told her to get up and go jump in the pool, and that’s what she did.”
Dallas Williams, Alexis' 13-year-old sister, also was burned in the explosion.
Dallas had a successful skin graft surgery Tuesday, and doctors say she could be home by this weekend. The prognosis is much worse for her mother.
Lorrie Williams was burned on 80 percent of her body and is in a medically induced coma at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals. She will likely be in a coma for at least six months and have to stay in the burn center at least a year if she survives, officials said.
“They can’t promise two minutes from now. They can’t promise a second from now. It’s just day by day, minute by minute,” said Kaitlinn Jones, 23, Williams’ oldest daughter.
Jones now faces a new role – caring for her younger sisters.
“It’s a lot. I’ve picked up the phone several times to call my mom and can’t get an answer – well, the answer I’m looking for,” she said.
Several local businesses have already stepped up to offer fundraising support to offset an avalanche of expected medical bills. And a fellow EMS worker created a GoFundMe account to raise money for the family.
Williams’ second-oldest daughter, Brittanie Jones, 22, says the family hasn’t given up hope.
“We still think our mom’s coming home,” she said.
Likewise, fellow paramedics are hoping and praying for a miracle.
“She’s a strong willed woman, very independent,” paramedic Judy Griffin said. “She is a fighter. You cannot pray enough, and we just hope that she does survive this.”