Parent at scene of Academic Magnet fire: 'It was surreal'

Dr. Lisa Herring is the Executive Director of Student Support Services for the school district.
Dr. Lisa Herring is the Executive Director of Student Support Services for the school district.

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A day after students and administrators looked on in horror as a fellow student was enveloped in fire outside a North Charleston high school, one parent who witnessed the scene is still shaken by the image.

"It was an awful scene," said parent Kurt Taylor. "It's not something you ever want to see in your life."

Taylor had just dropped off something at Academic Magnet High School for his daughter Wednesday morning when he saw the fire.

"I heard a commotion outside the door and looked out and saw the young man on fire out there," he said.

Witnesses say the 16-year-old junior was screaming and running toward the main entrance of the school.

"It's hard to describe," he said. "It was surreal, hard to realize what you're seeing is really happening."

Taylor says one student grabbed a fire extinguisher.

"Things were moving fast at that point. But he may very well have used it. I believe maybe the guidance counselors from the school helped him use it to put the flames out," he said.

Taylor says police, fire fighters, EMS, school personnel and parents pulled together to try to help.

"I think that's a tremendous statement to human nature of the community there, that nobody hesitated and waited and stood back. They all were trying to help the young man," Taylor said.

And Taylor says now is not the time to speculate why it happened or who's to blame.

"The most important thing of course is to keep the young man and his family in our prayers," he said.

At last report, the 16-year-old victim was reported in critical condition at the Joseph Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga.

Crisis counselors were at the school Thursday talking to students who are still stunned about Wednesday's incident.

A team of 30 have been on the campus since Wednesday, listening to their concerns.

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