“It was such a freak accident”
Last year local attorney Jacque Hawk was working in a camper he was selling. “I was repairing the shelves in the little refrigerator. They had come loose, so I was drilling these little bitty holes with maybe a 1/32” drill bit. Just these little bitty screws.”
“My right hand, I don’t even remember any pain. I went into complete shock”
In August of 2005, Bo Knox was 25 years old, working at Woodside Plantation as a building superintendent. After work one day, he was getting ready to cook dinner. “I got home from work, was going to cook some french fries on the stove. I turned the stove on to heat up the grease and someone knocked on my door.”
“I hate cooking bacon, so I was trying to do the safest thing possible.”
In 2009, Ashley Lyons was working as the Marketing Director for Meybohm Realtors. She was home with her little toddler, Eva, who had requested a special dinner: Waffle House.
It was hot as hell
It was hot as hell, summer of last year, so I’m in the camper working on this refrigerator. I’m putting these little bitty screws in to hold up the shelves up and it’s hotter than hell. I’m crouched down on the floor and I don’t have a shirt on.
It was a guy I was selling a truck to. He wanted to ask me some questions about it. So I put a lid on the grease and walked outside. I thought it would be a quick thing and it turned into a long conversation. I came back into the house and had totally forgotten what I was doing with the grease.
I wasn’t going to take my kid to the Waffle House. I hate cooking bacon, it always pops and I didn’t want Eva to get burned. So, I put her in the bathtub just off of the kitchen. I could watch her and keep her away while I cooked dinner. I was trying to do the safest thing possible.”
When I started drilling
When I started drilling the third or fourth hole I noticed it took a little more pressure on the drill.
I went and flipped my laundry and came back into the living room and it was completely filled with smoke.
At the time, I was living in one of those townhomes where the guest bath is next to kitchen. You can look in the bathroom from the peninsula in the kitchen. So, I set up the griddle right there where I could watch her in the tub and keep her away from popping bacon grease.
I’ve been hurt before
I’ve been hurt before. Plenty of times. But this was different.
I got frantic, opened the refrigerator door looking for baking soda but there wasn’t any in there, I remember freaking out looking around the kitchen trying to figure out what to do. I mean I thought I was going to burn the house down. I tried to grab the lid, but it was so hot I couldn’t touch it. So, I ran over and opened the backdoor up, grabbed the pot and went to throw it out.
I poured the bacon grease in a ramekin and it was up on the counter. I had my back to her putting her food on the plate and I guess she thought it was her snack.
All of a sudden, I’m in the middle of a flamethrower
All of a sudden, I’m in the middle of a flamethrower. My first thought was ‘where the f##k is this fire coming from?’ I was only in it for a millisecond.
I mean the pot was scorching my hand. When I threw it, the lid cupped and flipped and threw grease back on my right hand. I don’t even remember any pain. I just went into complete shock.
I turned just in time to see her reaching for it. She thought they were Cheez its. I screamed and I think i startled her a little bit, which is good.
What happened was I hit a pressurized ammonia line
What happened was I hit a pressurized ammonia line. Now ammonia itself isn’t flammable, but what I found out was ammonia mixed with oxygen is very flammable.
I immediately went to the bathroom and started coating my hand with aloe. My landlord actually walked over. He had seen seen me throw the little pot of fiery grease out the backdoor. He said ‘You okay?’ and I said, ‘yeah, I just burned my hand a little bit.’
While I was standing there that little girl reached up and dipped her fingers in that bacon grease.
I went in the house and looked in the mirror
I went in the house and looked in the mirror my skin was already sloughing off. I saw how bad it was. I remember I need to get it cooled down. It was getting intense I was physically shaky because of the pain.
I jumped in the shower trying to cut on cold and I accidentally cut on the hot water.
It’s just brutal I’m telling you. It’s putting me in more and more pain. I just have on a pair of pants. I get a towel and soak it in water and toss it over me to guard me from the sun. I feel like I’m on fire.
They take me to the Aiken Hospital. Just take me somewhere to get me out of pain. We go to the ER deck where the ambulance drivers were and I said, ‘hey man I need help.’ I’ve completely burned my hand; except it’s completely green from the elbows down where I coated myself with aloe. They walked me back and I sat in a room for about two hours, while they were trying to figure out what to do with me. I remember my hand was still burning. You could smell it on fire.
It took her a second to react. It was so hot. It takes a minute for the pain to start. She started screaming.
I immediately put it under cold water and remember looking at it. It was already blistering up so I knew we had to go to the emergency room.
There’s a police officer right in front of me
There’s a police officer right in front of me. I got his attention. Apparently, there is some sort of protocol you can’t be driving burnt people to the hospital.
So, I get the police officer to pull over. He’s a young cop. I told him, ‘I’m burnt like hell please take me to the ER.’ He said he needs to check with his supervisor. I’m lit now. I’m hurting like hell.
I’m in the back of the patrol car on the hard plastic seat and he says, ‘my supervisor says I need to hold you here until the ambulance comes.
That’s when I went into full total rage, cussing screaming threatening people. I can remember my hand was still burning. You could smell my hand on fire.
The only thing I can remember is they kept trying to stick me. There was a puddle of blood on the floor where they were trying to stick me. My veins had constricted I guess. They couldn’t find a vein. Man, I was in pain.
I made her a bowl of ice water for her fingers and we ran out to the car. I had to strap a screaming toddler into a car seat. ….with a bowl of ice water.
It’s hot as shit
It’s hot as shit. I’m cussing now. I told him the longer you keep me back here the worse it is on me. He finally let me back out and I got back in my car and take off. I’m going down Bobby Jones. My wife, Jacqueline, by this time has caught up with me and I got in the car with her. Its just like this. You catch every red light. She’s trying to run everybody over
When we get there they walked me straight in, took one look at me and they took me straight back.
The last thing I remember was him saying y’all get me some morphine and I woke up two days later in the burn unit. They kept me comfortable. They did the cleaning portion of it, put the cadaver skin on my hand. I was there four to six days. I was in so much pain at that time i don’t have much recollection.
I went back in for the grafts where they pulled skin from my hip and grafted to my hand.
I was probably in the hospital around 16 days over a month basically.
I drove to the emergency place on Belair Road across from Kudos. I get her out the car and we run up there for them to tell me they can’t do anything with her and that I had to take her to the burn unit. So. I had to strap a screaming child back into her carseat.
I wasn’t thinking. I was terrified.
What’s your name? What’s your date of birth?
What’s your name? What’s your date of birth?
No one is getting me pain medicine. It may not look like it but I am on fire.
I remember the panic when the doctor in Aiken told me you could lose some usage of your right hand. I was like man I am a builder. I can’t lose my hand. If there hadn’t have been a burn unit here I probably would have been sent to Atlanta, I guess. It was six weeks until I actually even saw my hand after the burns. I didn’t even know what it looked like.
It wasn’t dark yet. I pulled up to the emergency room and jumped out. I unstrapped her and they took her right back. I guess they didn’t want any screaming babies out front, i don’t know. But they took her right back.
They were great
They were great. Really, really good.
They wrapped me from my waist to the top of my head and both arms.
They’ve got this stuff called Hibiclens. They take it and pour it on the bandages. It goes right through to your skin. It felt wonderful.
Can I get another Hibiclens bath?
Can I get another Hibiclens bath?
They kept me so far out of pain it was unreal. For that first whatever-five, six weeks, I was in no pain. When I was home I slept. I was knocked out. I slept on the couch with my arm in between the couch cushions to keep it straight up and down.
I just remember I was incoherent.
She doesn’t really remember any of it except for the compression glove she had to wear. I remember she had it on at the beach. I still have it somewhere.
The bandages have healed into the wounds
The bandages have healed into the wounds too bad for them to just pull it off.
I need to go into this bath and soak some of it off. They lowered me into this lukewarm bath with bubbles and all. I started working on it, getting the bandages off.
Problem is i had some big holes. I had gotten it all off. There were three spots. Really bad. Bicep, chest and shoulder. Just a freaking hole in my bicep . Just a damn hole. I didn’t even know if I had a left nipple left.
What we gonna do about these holes? They took one look at me and said I needed another surgery. Trust me, they’ll fill in.
Dr. Mullins said to take skin from my thighs. I asked him to cut a Georgia Bulldog on my leg. He laughed.
The took the skin and covered the holes with it.
The weird thing about burns i would get up start moving around trying to do stuff and I was completely exhausted. I would sleep for 24 hours. Your body is working so hard to heal it exhausts you. I had never experienced that sort of exhaustion. Even today when I go to the office I have to drink coffee in the afternoon.
I went back in for the grafts where they pulled skin from my hip and grafted it to my hand.
I don’t know what I would have done. They took such good care of her. I mean, that’s your baby and she is in pain. I’m very grateful they were there.
The confidence of the staff is tremendously reassuring
The confidence of the staff is tremendously reassuring. They’re telling you the whole time when they talk to you this is the way it’s going to go. We know- we’ve done this thousands and thousands of times. It gives you a ton of reassurance. The methods they use and the way they go from step one to fifty when you come in the unit.
You sit there and you think thank goodness these people are here.
It was unusual that I was a local being treated there. Everyone was from all over the nation. They’ve been flown here and brought here from all over the nation
the JMS Burn Center in Augusta is the number one burn care facility in the US
These types of accidents happen and are not given a second thought until it happens to a loved one. Without the local burn unit, Eva, Jacque and Bo would have had to travel to receive the same specialized care.
It started in 1978 when local surgeon, Dr. Joseph M. Still, could not find a burn center to treat a severely burned man. That absence of care led Dr. Still to start what has become the largest burn center in the United States.
The Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctor’s Hospital cares for over 2,000 patients annually, both inpatient and outpatient, and approximately a third of their patients are children. The facility has 70 dedicated beds, 36 ICU units, and 4 operating rooms. The JMS Burn Center has additional facilities in Atlanta and Jackson, MS.
To give perspective as to how special this facility is, there are approximately roughly 5,300 community hospitals in the United States and only 72 burn centers in the US verified by The American Burn Association. Of those, the JMS Burn Center in Augusta is the number one burn care facility in the US.
The Joseph M. Still Burn Center is located at Doctor’s Hospital off Wheeler Road in Augusta.
Special thanks to Jacque Hawk, Bo Knox and Ashley Lyons for sharing their stories with us.
Jacque Hawk is an Augusta trial attorney. He began practicing law in 1984 and has handled several high profile death penalty cases such as Reinaldo Rivera, Christopher Bowers & Anthony Williams.
448 Telfair Street/Augusta, GA 30901/ (706) 724-8537
Bo Knox is the owner of Georgia Subcontracting Professionals. Recently he finished the buildout of 2nd City Distillery on the Augusta Riverwalk and Paws In Paradise Luxury Pet Grooming and Boarding Facility in Evans.