A Florida mother-of-five has died after suffering burns over nearly 100% of her body in a horrific fire pit accident in the family’s backyard that also sent her 11-year-old son to the hospital.
Nicole Foltz, 38, and her husband, Jeff, started a fire last month to keep the bugs away at their home in Tarpon Springs, where they were hanging out with friends, WFTS reported.
Jeff said that the fire fizzled at one point while he stepped inside and Nicole tried to reignite it.
“I had just gone inside and to my knowledge, she decided to try to keep the fire going, keep the fun going, and she put another log on it and there wasn’t much flame at all,” he told Fox 13 News.
“But she just, I guess, felt to pour a little gas on it, and it would reignite, and it did. I guess it must’ve traveled the gas stream up to the gas can, and it exploded in her hands,” Jeff explained.
He told WFTS that his panicked wife “actually stopped, dropped and rolled like you are supposed to.”
Despite her effort, she was overwhelmed d by the flames and suffered burns on almost 100% of her body. She died three days after the Nov. 14 accident.
Their 11-year-old son, Jeffrey, suffered second and third-degree burns over about 40% of his body and spent 12 days in the hospital, according to the outlet.
“I never left his side in the hospital, which is difficult, especially because I feel bad for other children there. I can see how it is to not have somebody that can be there for you by your bedside 24/7,” Foltz told WFTS.
The boy recently returned home, where he continues to recuperate from the severe injuries.
“He’s staying pretty strong. I’m sure the whole crew there was really surprised to hear that two days after we got home he was walking,” his dad told Fox 13.
The tragic mom was a longtime server and manager at The Tarpon Tavern, according to a GoFundMe account for the family.
“Her radiant smile always filled the room. She was always there for everyone — there for every relative, every friend, every customer, every coworker, every birthday, every anniversary, every day for every one,” fundraiser organizer Dan Jenkin wrote.
“We will miss Nicole, but our memories of her are eternal,” he added.
Tavern owner Ania Bozena also remembered her loved employee.
“She absolutely loved her work where everybody adored her not just for her hard work, but also personality and friendship,” she told Fox 13.
“She was a devoted wife to her amazing husband Jeff. But most of all, she was a great mother who always put her family first,” Bozena added.
On Friday night, Tarpon Tavern and sister eatery The Bistro donated 10% of its proceeds to the devastated family.
Foltz described Nicole to WFTS as “all around one of the best, genuine people. She had a fierceness to her. Everybody loved her.”
He urged people to learn about and practice fire safety.
“I don’t want to read about somebody else’s family having to go through this. It’s unimaginable,” he told WFTS. “It’s just one of those senseless acts you don’t expect to happen in your family … gasoline is not a joke when it comes to fire. You have to be careful or just don’t do it at all.”
He said the family will turn the fire pit into a bird bath, which Nicole always wanted in the backyard.
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