Natalie Zofkie was discharged from Riley Children’s Hospital Wednesday morning after five months of recovery from severe burns sustained Oct. 3 in a home accident.
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. –A Carmel Fire Department engine led the parade of more than 50 vehicles on Wednesday through a Noblesville neighborhood to escort 12-year-old Natalie Zofkie home from the hospital.
A color guard stood at attention as the family car pulled into the driveway and Zofkie stepped out of the backseat. The sixth-year girl then stood on the sidewalk as more and more fire trucks, police cars and vehicles driven by other supporters drove past the house.
“All kids should have this when they survive a burn and come home,” Zofkie said.
Zofkie was discharged from Riley Children’s Hospital on Wednesday morning after recovering for five months from severe burns sustained Oct. 3 in a pit fire accident. Zofkie was at a friend’s house in Carmel that night making s’mores. She poured gasoline on the fire to make it bigger.
“Her mother told us not to play with the gas can, but we didn’t listen,” said Zofkie, who takes responsibility for the accident in which she suffered third degree burns in 93 % of his body.
Zofkie spent five months in the hospital, two of which were in a coma. At first, many wondered if there would ever be a foster home for her.
“For almost a month, everyone thought I was going to die,” Zofkie said. “They’re just like waiting there. But I made it.”
The Carmel Fire Department responded to the emergency that fall night last October.
“Obviously it was terrible,” said Shane Hedrick, EMT of the Carmel Fire Department. “One of the worst things you can imagine, especially with a little girl. And for her, to survive and to be here today is a real miracle.”
The firefighters who treated Zofkie at the scene greeted her at her home, leading the parade which provided Zofkie with an escort for the final miles to her home. Carmel Fire Department paramedic Arielle Morgan shared a long hug with Zofkie as family and friends gathered outside the house at the end of the parade.
“It’s something that I never, ever imagined seeing in my career,” Morgan said. “It’s probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life. And seeing her come home is one of the best things I could have imagined.”
Zofkie reunited with friends who prayed for months for his recovery. She has undergone a dozen surgeries and painful rehabilitation for her skin grafts.
“I got out of bed everyday and went to my therapy,” Zofkie said. “So if I can do it, then all of you can do it, because I’m a wimp when it comes to pain.”
She was walking to the hospital in December.
“It’s been a bit of a tough few months,” Zofkie said. “But I would rather be tortured than paralyzed. There is certainly a lot of pain and tears and it was very lonely. But I’m just glad I got out. “
Zofkie’s mother Sarah Zofkie said her daughter shouldn’t need further surgery. Natalie has said she will be home schooling for the remainder of this semester and then plans to return to class for grade seven in the fall.