A Fort Pierce girl who was burned over 95% of her body in a bonfire accident while celebrating New Year’s Eve in December 2017 has died after more than a year’s treatment at Kendall Regional Medical Center.
Layne Chesney was 16.
Devon Hughes, a friend of the Chesney family, said on a GoFundMe page that Layne Chesney died Friday morning. The page had been set up after the accident to help her family raise money for medical treatment. By Saturday, after 16 months, the page had raised nearly $87,000 from more than 1,600 people.
Layne’s family also confirmed her death on a Facebook group page.
Layne, 14 at the time of the accident, suffered third-degree burns after she tried to restart a dwindling bonfire off the back porch of a friend’s house at a small New Year’s Eve gathering in Fort Pierce. The group had been roasting s’mores as party treats at the bonfire. Layne poured gasoline on the bonfire and the gas can exploded, engulfing her in flames.
She was airlifted to Kendall Regional in Miami-Dade for extensive treatment. People from around the world sent cards and messages of support after her story was shared in the media.
But Friday, the Lincoln Park Academy student who had played softball and soccer, and who had endured so many surgical procedures and recent setbacks, succumbed to organ failure, TC Palm reported. Her mother, grandmother, nurses and some of her doctors were by her side, the paper said.
“I’m just proud to have been her mom,” her mother, Leigh Ann Wirz Chesney, told TC Palm. “I hope she will give me the strength to learn how to live without her.”
On Wednesday, Layne was struggling to maintain sufficient oxygen saturation levels and her heart function had deteriorated, according to a post on a Pray for Layne Chesney Facebook group page that had kept family, friends and supports up to date on her journey.
“She fought a hard battle right until the end — never wanting to quit —because quitting was not in her nature,” Hughes wrote on the GoFundMe page.
“We are heart broken, but remain always grateful that she was a part of our lives and world — we just wish it had been for a lot longer with us here on Earth,” he said, asking that people give the family, which includes her mother Leigh Ann, time to grieve.
“We are broken,” Hughes wrote.
On Friday, Leigh Ann Chesney posted a video montage in tribute to her daughter on her Facebook page and on the group page. Earlier, there was a prayer vigil in Jensen Beach.
“People all over the world are in such sorrow for you, Leigh, [and] sending our love to you and that precious child Layne,” read one of many comments.