July 24, 2014

Elyria
Mostly sunny
63°F
test

Man severely burned in car fire

ELYRIA — When his wife came crashing down the stairs and threw open the front door about 8:41 p.m. Saturday, Robert Howard forgot all about the horse race he’d been watching on television.

CARL SULLENBERGER/CHRONICLE
A man was badly burned while sitting in this car at the end of Wolf Court in Elyria on Saturday night.

In the driveway across the street, a man was engulfed in flames from head to toe.

The man — who neighbors could only identify as “Slim,” and who they believe is in his mid-50s — was lying on the hood of his Cadillac at 227 Wolf Court with his clothes burning off.

Howard, 63, suffers from diabetes and said he can hardly walk across his living room without pain. But when he saw Slim, he rushed into the street in his socks.

Grabbing a 20-year-old fire extinguisher from his house, Howard sprayed Slim and a few open flames around the car, he said.

The victim was conscious when firefighters arrived and was treated with saline, Assistant Fire Chief Tim Mitchell said.

An ambulance took Slim to EMH Regional Medical Center where he was transported by LifeFlight helicopter. Dispatchers requested a direct flight to the burn ward at Metro-Health Medical Center in Cleveland about 9:30 p.m., saying he suffered severe burns over 80 to 90 percent of his body.

All that was left in the driveway when firefighters cleared the scene was a scorch mark, a pair of melted shoes and what looked like a blackened flight jacket.

Mitchell said he believes Slim was smoking in the car. When he fell asleep, the cigarette fell out of his mouth and ignited his clothes, he speculated.

Rocky Updike, who lives at 227 Wolf Court, said the victim’s name was John, but did not know his last name.

The victim frequently visits his house, Updike said, and had been leaving Saturday after watching a portion of the Indians game inside.

Contact Jason Hawk at 653-6264 or jhawk@chroniclet.com.