Kyle Smith, a sophomore defensive tackle for NAIA Carroll College in Montana, received horrific burns last month after a cooking accident at his girlfriend's home. Smith was attempting to make a battered, deep-fried onion when everything went horribly wrong.
On June 23rd, Smith was heating a pot of oil when it began to smoke. Fearing that it would set off the smoke alarm, he tried to take the pot outside. His girlfriend, Christie Fredericks, explains to the Casper Star-Tribune what happened:
The next thing I know the lid popped and the oil overflowed. Kyle slipped on the oil and it burned him.
“By that time the house was starting to fill with smoke and Kyle was just screaming at me and my daughter to get out of the house.”
Fredericks and her 2-year-old daughter, Lacie, ran to the garage, waiting for Smith to join them.
When he didn’t, Fredericks ran to the front door.
“I couldn’t see Kyle at first because of all the smoke,” Fredericks said. “And then I heard him screaming, 'Call 911 … my feet are burnt off.'
“When I finally saw him his pants were melted and he was army crawling to the door. It was pretty traumatic.”
Smith was hospitalized and airlifted to the University of Utah Burn Center, nearly 500 miles away but the only place equipped to deal with his severe injuries. He has second- and third-degree burns on his arms, legs, and feet, and last Friday underwent skin graft surgery. He's expected to stay at the burn center another month, and won't be able to work out for "probably six months," meaning he'll miss the entire football season.
Update: Photos of Smith' burns can be seen here. Be warned, they're graphic.
Smith is responsible for all his own medical costs. If you're in the area and would like to help out, you can give to the Kyle Smith Donation Fund at local Reliant Federal Credit Unions.