12-Year-Old Boy Suffers Severe Burns After Science Experiment Explodes: 'We Are Praying'

Barrett McKim and his mother were both burned when a science experiment exploded at their North Carolina home

Barrett McKim
Photo: GoFundMe

A boy from North Carolina is recovering in the hospital after he experienced second and third-degree burns when his science experiment exploded at home.

Barrett McKim, 12, suffered burns to over half of his body when an experiment involving isopropyl alcohol ignited on June 23, according to ABC station WLOS and a GoFundMe campaign. The explosion also injured his mother, Caroline, who sprayed water on Barrett until emergency services arrived at their Highlands home, per the campaign.

"Barrett has a love for science and has performed many experiments," the boy's uncle, Stephen Schlautman, wrote on the donation page. "He is known for being cautious, as evidenced by the goggles he was wearing while performing the experiment."

Schlautman said Barrett was airlifted to a burn center in Augusta, where he was expected to undergo "many surgeries involving skin grafts."

"Caroline has an equally daunting prognosis," Schlautman wrote. "The hospital will be home for Barrett and his parents for weeks, if not months!! Praying that the Lord will continue to heal skin…and that all will be amazed by a healing that is beyond what they think is humanly possible."

In an update posted on Thursday, Schlautman said Barrett would undergo his fifth surgery on Friday. Caroline was schedules for a second operation on the same day.

"Looking to Friday to start the skin grafting and cell regeneration where they take [Barrett's] skin, mix it up with a solution and spray it back onto him," Schlautman wrote.

The family's GoFundMe page has raised over $90,000 for medical expenses as of Friday afternoon.

Barrett's father, Kyle, told WLOS that his son's experiment involved a Bunsen burner, a tool typically used in laboratory settings.

"Alcohol was in the mix," he explained to the news station. "Somehow in that process, that got ignited and kind of blew up and back into his face. He's burned on about 50 percent of his body, and my understanding is that about 20 percent of those are third-degree and 30 percent are second-degree."

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He added: "Fortunately, he was wearing protective glasses, which certainly helped, but he was wearing a synthetic shirt, which ended up being a real contributor in the fire staying and trying to get that off as it kind of melted away with the accelerant on there."

Kyle called his wife a "hero" for helping to save Barrett's life following the explosion.

"Caroline, although she's yet to believe it, is a hero," he told WLOS, "and I think a lot of the reason Barrett is alive."

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