Recovery a Painful Fog for Severely Burned Florida Teen

Nearly a month after 15-year-old Michael Brewer was viciously set on fire in a Florida apartment complex, his life is a painful fog of surgery, infection and tears.

Brewer, still in critical condition, spends his days with his doting mother at his side, hovering between consciousness and sedation. He endures excruciating twice-daily dressing changes, his wounds covered in cadaver skin that doctors hope will allow his body to regenerate its own.

Video: Teens set kid on fire, burning him on 80 percent on his body.

"He can respond to things, but he's very heavily sedated," Dr. Nicholas Namias, medical director of the University of Miami -- Jackson Memorial Burn Center, told "There's no period of him watching TV or having people talk to him and understanding."

Namias confirmed the Brewer had some rough days this week, but would not elaborate on exactly what the trouble had been.

Brewer's burns, suffered the night he was doused with rubbing alcohol and set ablaze, cover 65 percent of his body. The only saving grace, Namias said, is that his face and hands were mostly spared.

"The nurses have noticed he has cried," he said. "It's very hard to balance the amount of sedation and pain medication you give. Those things affect blood pressure."

Video: Burned boy can be heard screaming for help on 911 call.

Police say the high school student was attacked by five other teens, including one just 13 years old, after he reported one of the accused to the police for attempting to steal a bicycle as payment for a $40 video game.

According to police, Brewer was cornered near the apartment complex swimming pool when suspect Denver Jarvis, 15, splashed him with rubbing alcohol and Jesus Mendez, 15, used a lighter to set him on fire.

Brewer threw himself in the pool in attempt to douse the flames. His heartbreaking screams can be heard in the 911 call. "Help me!" he could be heard pleading. "Please! Please!"

Denver Jarvis and Mendez along with Steve Shelton, 15, Jeremy Jarvis, 13, and Matthew Bent, 15, were all charged with aggravated battery. Mendez, who police say flicked the lighter, was also charged with attempted second-degree murder.

Lead Prosecutor: Attack a 'Horrible, Horrible Act'

Maria Schneider, assistant state attorney in Broward County and the lead prosecutor on the case, told that her office will decide next week whether to charge the four oldest boys as adults.

"We're completing our investigation. I want to review as much information as possible," she said.

"And obviously we'd very much like to speak to Michael before making a final decision," she said. "If we cannot we'll make a decision with the information we have."

Under Florida state law, minors under the age of 14 can't be charged as adults unless charged with a capital felony. Attempted murder, the most serious charge any of the teens could face at this point, Schneider said, would not qualify as such.

State law also only allows for juveniles of any age to be held in pre-trial detention for 30 days. If the four older boys are not charged as adults by Nov. 12, they must be released into the custody of their families.

Schneider called the attack on Brewer a "horrible, horrible act."

"The injuries to Michael are probably some of the most heinous I've ever had the misfortune to encounter," she said. "The question here is what happened."

Doctor on Vicious Attack: 'This Didn't Have to Be'

Namias said that most of the 300 or so burn patients the center treats each year were injured in accidents, which makes Brewer's case so heartbreaking.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...