BRANDON, Florida - A 12-year-old Lakeland boy staying at his father's house in Brandon has been flown to Tampa General Hospital with what have been described as serious burns to his lower body.
Witnesses say Alex James was lighting off fireworks in the front yard when a pack of bottle rockets in his pocket accidentally ignited. Witnesses say James began screaming and ran inside his home with his pants still on fire before his father's girlfriend finally used a garden hose to douse the burns.
"When you see the ambulance and the deputies arrive, you don't expect this to happen, but in the back of your mind you know the potential is there," said neighbor Rich Hagan, who feels for the family and especially the 12-year old burned.
Jim and Mary McCarty live directly next door and were among the first outside as fire trucks and ambulances arrived to treat and transport the young victim.
"He was burned from the crotch all the way down to just below the knee and the outer layer of skin was gone," said Jim McCarty. "It was terrible."
"Oh, I'm heartbroken. I can hardly talk about it," said a tearful Mary McCarty, who described Alex as a sweet boy who comes from a loving family.
"Just to see something like this, it can hurt him for a long, long time," said McCarty. "What is to his advantage is he's young and it can grow back."
Alex was initially taken to Brandon Regional Medical Center before he was transferred in serious condition to the burn unit at Tampa General Hospital by air.
Reached by telephone, Alex's father said his son is doing better and that the family appreciates the community's concern.
"They have a great burn unit over there, but he will be laid up for a long, long time," said Mary McCarty. "We're praying for him."
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