BURLEY — As 2-year-old Chayse Bodily curled into the side of a couch and deftly used a small finger to navigate his electronic device, tender pink patches of new skin on his head and face and a swaddling of gauze wrapping his upper torso remained a constant reminder of a Sunday dinner that turned to horror.
The boy was badly burned Sept. 9 after an escaping bubble in a hot pressure cooker spewed boiling food and liquid to the ceiling which then rained down on Chayse and his mother.
The boy received second-degree burns over 14 percent of his body and spent 12 days at the University of Utah Burn Center before being released Sept. 21.
‘Like a geyser’
The Bodily family spent the afternoon of Sept. 9 installing French doors in their home. Chayse’s mother, Angela, popped a roast into the pressure cooker for their dinner. When the appliance indicated the meat was done, she released the steam and removed the lid, laying it on the counter. She intended to add some potatoes to the still-boiling contents of the cooker while she made some gravy. As she grabbed a cup from the cupboard above the cooker, her small son hung close to her left leg.
A bubble exploded from under the pot roast.
“It just shot up like a geyser,” Angela Bodily said. “I was in shock and I saw the baby slipping in it.”
Standing in the doorway, her husband, Travis Bodily, saw the explosion and quickly scooped up Chayse. He rushed him to the bathroom where he took off the boy’s clothing, still covered in the boiling food.
“I ran to the bathroom,” the boys mother said. “And I could see his skin coming off. The scariest thing you’ll ever see is the skin rolling off your baby’s body.”
The boy’s father used a bucket to pour cool water over his son before dashing him to the hospital. Chayse’s mother, covered in the hot meal, stripped down and re-dressed before following.
Angela Bodily’s adult skin didn’t burn as easily, and she escaped with only two burn blisters on her foot.
At the hospital, doctors decided to fly Chayse to the Utah burn center with his mother by his side and his father following in their vehicle. About five minutes from Burley, the helicopter hit a bird and had to return.
A fixed-wing plane was called to transport the boy.
“That was the first time I’d ever flown and I was just terrified,” Angela Bodily said. “Now, every time I see a LifeFlight helicopter I just start to shake.”
When they arrived, the medical team scrubbed him down to determine how severe his burns were. They shaved much of his hair and his eyes were swollen.
“It was just heartbreaking to see him like that,” Chayse’s father said.
Soon the couple began to notice the other patients at the burn center and they became aware of how fortunate they were that their son’s injuries were not any worse.
“You sit and listen to people’s stories because sometimes they just need someone to listen,” Angela Bodily said.
She cried when they received a Be Brave Baylee Foundation basket from the family of 15-year-old Baylee Hoalridge, who died from burn injuries in 2015. It took her all day to open the card and read it.
Moved by the other patients’ stories, the couple purchased 200 DVDs and donated them to the burn center.
Beginning to heal
As Chayse’s wounds began to heal, his parents remained close by his side by staying in the Ronald McDonald house near the hospital. When they left, they donated their unused credit back to the charity.
They learned how to provide physical therapy to prevent Chayse’s scar tissue from tightening so he will keep his mobility. They also learned how to how to change the dressings on his wounds, which caused him extreme pain.
Once home, Chayse’s demeanor changed and he seemed happier, Travis Bodily said. Chayse hadn’t slept well or even played much at the hospital, but began to sleep and play at home.
But he’s occasionally plagued by nightmares and sometimes wakes up crying and screaming.
His parents’ challenges now center on figuring out how to get a toddler to take regular pain medication and undergo wound care.
“Now we have to find creative ways to get a two-year-old to do things that he doesn’t want to do,” his mother said.
Angela Bodily had to take a leave of absence at her job as a deli clerk at Bobcat Corner and Travis Bodily shifted his work schedule to nights and weekends to help with his son’s care and doctor appointments. Angela’s sister, Jessica Richardson, flew from her Wisconsin home to help the family, which includes two older boys, 9 and 14.
Doctors still don’t know whether Chayse will need skin grafts or how much scarring there will be. Medical bills continue to mount.
“This is something parents should never have to go through,” his mother said. “But it’s also something that a child should never have to go through either.”