Family Details Their Recovery After Suffering Horrific Burns When Their RV Exploded

The Copeland family had just returned to Utah after a cross-country drive to Maine when their RV exploded

The Copeland Family
Photo: gofundme

A Utah family is sharing their gripping journey to recovery after their home RV exploded with three of their four children inside.

Kyle and Whitney Copeland — who purchased a city bus and converted it into a family motorhome to travel across the country with their children — had just returned to Utah on Dec. 28, 2021, after a cross-country drive to Maine.

Around 10 p.m. that night, Pepper, 11, and Kade, 10, were in their bunks while Emree, 6, and Krew, 3, were playing in the front area of the RV. Whitney and Kyle were outside with their dog, preparing to hitch up the trailer so they could head out the next morning. That's when Emree hurried out of the bus to tell Kyle the heater was "making a funny noise," according to the family's first blog post.

"No sooner had she got her message delivered, the bus burst into flames," the post added.

A follow-up entry shared on Dec. 30 said Kyle ran into the flames to rescue his children. The family later learned that his coat, which his father gifted him just weeks before, was flame resistant and "saved all of Kyle's vital organs." Kade was able to get out through an escape window and said that his curtains were on fire. Kyle later escaped the RV "carrying Krew and pulling Pepper behind him."

Whitney first spoke about the tragedy on Dec. 29, sharing a message about "perspective."

"My Kyle and my children's faces and bodies will most likely not be the same. Their extremities, I'm told will need multiple surgeries and weeks of physical therapy," Whitney said. "I'm not sure what that will 'look like' in the next few weeks but perspective tells me they are alive and here for a reason."

She later added that, at the time, Pepper and Krew were in the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) while Kyle was receiving treatment in the burn unit, which was "a lengthy walk away" from his children.

Kade and Emree only had minor injuries, and Whitney was released after receiving treatment for burns on her hands, according to a GoFundMe shared to raise money for the Copelands.

"I've contemplated getting a Segway, like the one in mall cop, but quickly decided against it. I'd probably hurt myself or someone in my way," Whitney wrote.

A loved one later shared the first photos of the Copeland children's injuries, stating, "You can talk about someone being hospitalized with burns, but until you actually see them, it may not register as to how devastating it can be."

The family has continued to share the ups and downs of their journey with videos, photos and details of their recovery.

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In a reflective February entry, Kyle posted a photo of the tarnished bus, which served as their home after the family sold their house and belongings to travel the country.

In the latest update, Whitney shared Monday that Pepper is ready to "go home."

"The poor girl just wants to go home. She's had a rough go at today. She is comfortable now and sleeping. One step forward, two steps back," Whitney wrote.

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The GoFundMe has raised nearly $245,000.

It said the family's "motorhome was their ONLY home and transportation, and is a total loss." The statement on the GoFundMe added, "This tragedy leaves their family essentially, 'homeless', and with no earthly possessions left. No car, no cell phones, no purse, no clothes, no beds, no toiletries, no winter gear, NOTHING!"

It added, "Additionally they likely face many months of travel and painful medical treatment and bills. The Copelands physical needs are immediate and many! They could also use many prayers right now and all of us coming together to help them through this horrific tragedy."

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