Central Coast residents rally around the Lompoc family, including their high school agriculture teacher, after several of them are seriously burned in a freak accident during a camping trip.
“While camping on Thanksgiving with family and friends, an outdoor heater broke, spraying hot fuel on Gretchen, Graham, their 16-year-old son, Brayden, and Gretchen’s father, Richard,” according to GoFundMe page It was started by Graham’s longtime friend, Ian Charnley.
Several families, including Gretchen and Graham Flaherty as well as their children, had traveled to the Ridgecrest area for Thanksgiving camping weekend when the accident occurred in the middle of a Thursday.
“It was just a camp fireball,” Charnley said. Noozhawk on Saturday.
When the fire engulfed Atascadero resident Richard Mullins, his daughter, Gretchen Flaherty, jumped on top of him to try to put out the flames.
“She literally manipulated him trying to get him out. That’s the kind of person she is,” Charnley said.
Charnley’s son grabbed a fire extinguisher from his truck and began spraying the burning pair.
“It was absolutely horrific,” Charnley said, adding that the incident had shaken others on set.
Gretchen Flaherty, a Lompoc High School Head of the Department of Agriculture and ffa Her father was severely burned. Her husband and son were also badly burned, but their injuries were confined to smaller areas of their bodies.
Family members were taken to several hospitals. Mullins was flown by medical helicopter to the hospital Arrowhead regional medical centerburn center in the San Bernardino area, while Gretchen, Graham and Brayden Flaherty were initially taken by ambulance to Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.
After initially being treated there, Gretchen Flaherty was transferred to the burns unit at Memorial Hospital in Bakersfield, where she will likely remain for the next several weeks.
“All involved suffered second and third degree burns, with her father and Gretchen suffering the worst injuries requiring multiple surgeries and skin grafts,” the GoFundMe page states. “Apart from a long and painful recovery process, this will result in huge financial losses for the family through lost work as well as medical expenses.”
Charnley and Graham Flaherty have been friends since they were children in Atascadero, where Gretchen Flaherty also grew up.
“They’re just a really great family, amazing kids. Graham is a great dad. Gretchen is really involved in the community,” Charnley said.
As word of the accident spread on social media, many colleagues and friends pointed out Gretchen Flaherty’s generous spirit in helping her community.
Under the leadership of Gretchen Flaherty, members of the Lompoc High FFA chapter collected games donated to the Lompoc High FFA Lompoc Valley Medical Center For children admitted as patients.
Flaherty’s children, Brayden and Kellon, attend Lompoc High School and participate in sports, including track and golf. Their daughter, Ainsley, is present Vandenberg Middle School He plays soccer and softball.
“They’re not just people sitting at home. They’re very involved in the community,” Charnley said. “Prayers for this wonderful family would be greatly appreciated during this difficult time, and any financial contribution would be very helpful.”
In the first six hours, the GoFundMe page for the Flaherty and Mullins families had raised more than $14,000 by Saturday evening.