Lompoc Household Suffers Severe Burn Accidents in ‘Horrific’ Accident Whereas Tenting | Native Information


Central Coast residents rally around a Lompoc family, including a high school agriculture teacher, after several members suffered severe burns in a freak accident during a camping trip.

“While camping out on Thanksgiving with family and friends, an outdoor heater exploded and sprayed hot gasoline on Gretchen, Graham, their 16-year-old son Braiden and Gretchen’s father Richard,” according to the GoFundMe page started by Graham’s longtime friend, Ian Charnley .

Several families, including Gretchen and Graham Flaherty and their children, had been traveling to the Ridgecrest area for Thanksgiving weekend camping when the incident happened Thursday noon.

“It was basically just a fireball in camp,” Charnley told Noozhawk on Saturday.

As the fire engulfed Atascadero resident Richard Mullins, his daughter Gretchen Flaherty jumped on him to try to put out the flames.

“She literally attacked him to try and knock him out. That’s the kind of person she is,” Charnley said.

Charnley’s son grabbed a fire extinguisher from his truck and began spraying the burning couple.

“It was pretty horrifying,” Charnley said, adding that others in the group were shaken by the incident.

Gretchen Flaherty, Chair of the Department of Agriculture at Lompoc High School and FFA advisor, and her father suffered severe burns. Her husband and son also suffered severe burns, but the injuries were limited to smaller areas of their bodies.

The family members were taken to several hospitals. Mullins was flown by medical helicopter to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center’s burns center in the San Bernardino area, while Gretchen, Graham and Braiden Flaherty were first taken by ambulance to Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.

After initially being treated there, Gretchen Flaherty was then transferred to the burns unit at Memorial Hospital in Bakersfield, where she is likely to remain for the next few weeks.

“Everyone involved suffered second and third degree burns, with Gretchen and her father sustaining the worst injuries which will require numerous surgeries and skin grafts,” reads the GoFundMe page. “Apart from the long and painful recovery process, this will place a tremendous financial burden on the family through lost work combined with medical costs.”

Charnley and Graham Flaherty have been friends since childhood in Atascadero, where Gretchen Flaherty grew up.

“They are just a really great family, wonderful kids. Graham is a great dad. Gretchen is really involved in the community,” Charnley said.

As news of the accident spread on social media, several colleagues and friends noted Gretchen Flaherty’s generous spirit in helping her community.

Led by Gretchen Flaherty, Lompoc High FFA Chapter members collected toys donated to Lompoc Valley Medical Center for children admitted as patients.

Graham Flaherty worked as a Mercedes-Benz mechanic at the Santa Barbara Auto Group.

The Flaherty children, Braiden and Kellon, attend Lompoc High School and play sports, including track and field and golf. Their daughter Ainsley attends Vandenberg Middle School and plays soccer and softball.

“They’re not just sit-at-home folks. They’re very involved in the community,” Charnley said. “Prayers for this wonderful family would be greatly appreciated at this difficult time and any financial contribution would be extremely helpful.”

In its first six hours, a GoFundMe page had raised more than $14,000 for the Flaherty and Mullins families by Saturday night.

– Noozhawk North County Editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.