Help sought for family of La Plata teen burned in accident
Louk Thomas suffered third-degree burns to much of his body
- Thomas is recovering at the University of Colorado Health Burn and Frostbite Center in Aurora, Colorado.
- Thomas was taken off a ventilator last weekend.
- Thomas could remain at the facility for more than 90 days before he is allowed to go home.
FARMINGTON — An account has been set up at a Farmington bank to help a La Plata family whose teenage son was badly burned in an accident in late February.
Candace Sherwood Herrera said her son, 15-year-old Louk Thomas, suffered third-degree burns to 32% of his body in an incident that took place on Feb. 26 outside the family's home.
Herrera said her daughter, her daughter's boyfriend and Thomas were working on a car, and were burning wood pellets to stay warm. When Thomas added gasoline from a can to the open flame, the can exploded, burning much of the front of his body — "from his hairline to his knees," she said.
Thomas was taken to the San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington before being airlifted later that day to the University of Colorado Health Burn and Frostbite Center in Aurora, Colorado, Herrera said, where he has remained.
Her son's condition has improved in the nearly two weeks since the accident, Herrera said, noting that he was taken off a ventilator last weekend.
"He has been able to talk to us, which is great," she said. "He is in good spirits."
Herrera said her son already has had four surgeries and likely faces anywhere from four to six more procedures. She said the burns to his chest, abdomen, arms, hands and legs require skin grafts, but doctors are trying a procedure called an allograft to treat some of the burns because it results in less scarring.
Doctors are treating the burns to his face with a ReCell device, a relatively new medical option that processes skin samples in the operating theater into a cell suspension that is sprayed or dripped onto a wound, according to pubmed.gov.
Family friend Rita Jaquez Arnold has set up a bank account to help the family with expenses related to Thomas's accident. She said anyone who is interested in helping the family can donate to the account at Vector Bank at 2000 E. 20th St. in Farmington under the name of Candace Sherwood Herrera or Louk Thomas.
Herrera said she has insurance, but the family is incurring a variety of expenses outside of medical care. She and her husband are staying at a Ronald McDonald House in the Denver area, but they are eating out every meal and have travel expenses. Herrera also said she is the primary breadwinner for the family, as she operates a salon in Farmington, and she has been unable to work since the accident happened since she has been with her son in Aurora.
Thomas faces a lengthy stay at the burn center, Herrera said, explaining that doctors have told her it could be 34 to 90-plus days before he is ready to go home. She described her son as a happy-go-lucky teen who makes a lasting impression on everyone he meets.
Thomas is home schooled and takes great satisfaction in caring for the family's livestock, Herrera said. She said he is an avid team roper and enjoys anything related to the cowboy way of life.
"He's just a go-getter," Herrera said. "He's always helping somebody out. He's always willing to do anything for anybody."
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.