Pair severly burned in hot springs incident |

Pair severly burned in hot springs incident

The father of a man severely burned in a hot spring north of Gerlach said quick action by his friends may have given him his only shot at survival.

Steve Crowell of Carson City said his son, Andy, 25, and friend Lisa O’Shea, 27, were hurt when they jumped into a 200-degree hot spring to rescue their dogs.

Both were in critical condition Wednesday at the University Medical Center burn unit in Las Vegas after receiving third-degree burns over 70 to 80 percent of their bodies, according to Andy’s father, Steven Crowell.

O’Shea’s boyfriend, Dominic Delafuente, said the couple had joined Andy and his girlfriend, Patience Stewart, for a weekend of motorcycling and relaxing on the playa of the Black Rock Desert.

The hot spring, located about 30 miles north of Gerlach, was to be their last stop. After being released from the truck, the dogs jumped into the pool, which registered a scalding 200 degrees. When the dogs started yelping, Andy and O’Shea rushed in to rescue them.

Andy apparently got his feet stuck in the sediments on the bottom, and was sucked into the funnel-shaped pool, resulting in third-degree burns up to the mid-chest. According to Crowell, O’Shea managed to jump out of the pool more quickly, but was badly burned nevertheless.

Delafuenta, together with Stewart, helped the two out, and Stewart drove their truck to the nearest road. There, they met someone in a silver pickup truck, who called for help.

“Patience said when Andy got out of the pool he ran to the truck and took off his shoes. He was in terrible pain. They got the dog into the back of the truck, and she drove like crazy to get to the road. Another truck called an ambulance,” Crowell said, noting they were taken to Washoe Medical Center.

“I got the call about 3:30 p.m,” Crowell said. “From there, they were airlifted to Las Vegas.

“They (the people in the truck) were instrumental in getting things done quickly, and saving their lives … if they live.” Crowell said.

“The next couple of weeks will be critical,” he said, noting that a fatal infection can easily set in during these critical first few weeks. He said his son is being continually wrapped in gauze, and fluid and blood leaks through the bandages almost immediately.

Stewart’s dog, a German shepherd-Chow mix named Ezra, was submerged in the pool and died almost immediately. The second animal, a Rottweiler named Leo, was pulled out yelping. He lost his hide and hair, and was euthanized that evening.

Bill Gooch, chief of the volunteer Gerlach Fire Department, said he sees about three or four burn accidents a year at the hot springs on the Black Rock Desert playa.

”We had one person stick his foot in and he burned his heel,” he said. ”Some people think they’ll test the water, but it doesn’t take much. It takes your skin right off.”

“Last year, a man lost two dogs in the same pool. It’s a natural reaction to try to save their animals without thinking about the consequences,” he said, noting that the best thing to do is not let pets out of sight.

Andy works as a carpenter in the Virginia City Highlands, and has no insurance.

His sister, Leala, set up a fund for Andy and for O’Shea at Washington Mutual Bank, 700 South State Street, Ukiah, Calif., 95482, account number 3513295829. Those wishing to contribute may make checks payable to Leala Crowell. Please note on the check that the contribution is to benefit Andrew Crowell, Lisa O’Shea, or both.

You can help

Donations can be made in Andy Crowell or Lisa O’Shea’s names at Washington Mutual Bank, 700 South State Street, Ukiah, California, 95482, account number 3513295829

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