4-year-old Chloe Garcia was having a blast carving pumpkins with her family. But all of that changed when one exploded in her face. A man was trying to show the little girl what the carving-in-progress would look like once lit up, but it wound up causing an accidental pumpkin explosion instead, leaving the poor girl severely burned. And while her story is a warning for other parents, it's also incredibly inspiring to see this sweet girl's courage!
***WARNING: Some images may be considered graphic***
Innocent Carving Turned Dangerous
As Halloween approached, a friend of Chloe's mom was showing the little girl how to carve a pumpkin. They'd hollowed it out, and traced a design on the outside, but had not yet begun cutting. Chloe was curious as to how the pumpkin would look once lit. So, the man scooped the little girl into his arms, and picked up the pumpkin and a butane lighter in an attempt to show her.
The man flipped the pumpkin upside down, using the lighter to create a flame inside as a preview of what to expect once the carving was complete. The little girl excitedly leaned in to get a better look, just as disaster struck.
Pumpkin Explosion Explained
What Chloe's mom and her friend didn't realize was that the fumes from the lighter had nowhere to escape from the pumpkin since a face had not yet been carved. To make matters worse, Melanie believes the lighter also had a leak in it.
“She [Chloe] was leaning over to look and it just went up in flames,” Chloe’s mother, Melanie, said. “I hear this big loud woosh noise. I can’t even describe how loud it was. It sounded like the whole house fell and caved in.”
The gas fumes built up inside the pumpkin, causing a flash fire and then an explosion.
The tragic pumpkin explosion left poor Chloe with first and second degree burns on her face, neck and hands. She spent days in intensive care, fighting to survive. And that was just the start of her recovery. And watching her little girl suffer has been pure agony for her mom.
“Just seeing how her skin looked. She had 12 surgeries,” Melanie explained.
After undergoing surgeries and skin grafts, the best chance for healing Chloe's deep facial scars was to wear a specially made plastic mask. The mask helped keep the scars from pulling on her face as she grows, so that it would not become any more misshapened.
The severe burns and the plastic mask made Chloe's first day of kindergarten tough, especially for Melanie. There were a barrage of questions from Chloe's classmates, wanting to know more about her appearance.
“There were a couple of kids that said, ‘What happened? Why is her lip like that? Why does her face look like that?’ And at that point I kind of lost it,” Melanie recalled.
But Chloe did just great. This brave little girl isn't letting the horrific event hold her back. And it wasn't long before the class saw her for the sweet girl she is!
Now 5 years old, Chloe is in the next phase of her healing. She currently isn't wearing a mask. An upcoming surgery will do more work on the little girl's lip, and she will receive another skin graft. Then she will begin wearing a new half mask.
As the 1-year anniversary of the horrible accident approached, pumpkins began appearing everywhere. You'd expect Chloe to be terrified. But she's just like any other kid this time of year. She laughs and plays amongst the pumpkins and looks forward to making new memories this Halloween, dressed as a beautiful candy princess!
Even after all of the trauma and pain, God is using this experience to grow Chloe in ways that leave her mom in awe.
“I think with this accident it’s changed her, it’s made her grow more, and she’s just so happy,” Melanie said. “Before the accident, she was more quiet, now she’s a little chatterbox.”
And Chloe's strong spirit just goes to show that God can use anything for His good!
"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." 1 Peter 5:10
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