Layne Chesney suffered life-threatening burns on New Year's Eve as she and a friend roasted marshmallows

By Char Adams
January 04, 2018 02:36 PM

What started as a fun New Year’s Eve gathering with friends quickly turned into tragedy for 14-year-old Layne Chesney.

The Fort Pierce, Florida, teen was roasting marshmallows on a small fire just outside her best friend’s home when a nearby gas can exploded, engulfing the 9th grader in flames, her mother, Leigh Chesney, tells PEOPLE.

“The parents ran outside and the father grabbed hold of Layne and tried to use his own body to put out the flames,” she tells PEOPLE. “He also suffered some severe burns as well on his chest and stomach area. But he did save her life. If it wasn’t for him she would not have made it.”

Layne was taken to the hospital after suffering third-degree burns over 95 percent of her body, Chesney, 43, tells PEOPLE. Chesney rushed to be with her daughter and says the teen was unresponsive.

Credit: Courtesy Lauryn Chesney

“They didn’t expect her to survive, but she made it,” Chesney says through tears. “The doctor told me that she most likely wouldn’t make it because people that endure this type of injury don’t survive. But she made it through the night. She survived the most crucial 48 hours.”

Layne, who is being treated at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami, underwent surgery to replace 90 percent of her damaged skin, and Chesney says her daughter has a “very, very long road” to recovery ahead.

Layne Chesney
| Credit: Courtesy Lauryn Chesney

“Layne’s a fighter and she’s defied all the odds so far. She’s really a tough girl,” Chesney tells PEOPLE. “I have to fight as hard as she is, no matter if I wanna break down. I know I can’t do that. She needs me to stay strong for her. I just want her to survive.”

Credit: Courtesy Lauryn Chesney

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover medical expenses.

The mom of two says that the community has rallied behind Layne, who is a star softball player at her school, adding that the teen inspired a lot of people.

“Everybody is a friend of Layne,” Chesney says, noting that her favorite thing about her daughter is her “spirit.” “She’s feisty. She’s funny. She makes everybody laugh. She gives 100 percent.”