Teen soaks his shirt in gasoline then invites friend to light him up.

Proving once again that naming your kid after someone of great intelligence doesn’t guarantee that your kid will share that intelligence, a 15 year old teen by the name of Thomas Jefferson is in a drug-induced coma at a Greenwood, IN hospital after being badly burned because no one ever told him that he shouldn’t soak his shirt in gasoline and then invite his friends to set him on fire. Not surprisingly Jefferson was immediately engulfed in flames from his waist to his head because, well, gasoline is flammable and all.

Teen Badly Burned in Fire Stunt

“I would never have imagined something like this to happen. I mean things go on in different neighborhoods, but not that. They’re old enough to know better,” said neighbor Michelle Cordray.

Added fellow neighbor Scott Moore “At 10:30 they were throwing firecrackers at each other beside my house and I told them they need to get home and then ten minutes later I see an ambulance show up.”

Yes, a couple of potential Nobel Laureates to be sure. In combination I’m sure the IQs of these two young men reach the staggering heights of single digits.

37 thoughts on “Teen soaks his shirt in gasoline then invites friend to light him up.

  1. Based on the latest rulings coming out in this area I’m wondering if that neighbor, Scott Moore, might not be up for some litigation from this maroon’s folks.

  2. Personally, I think the kid should have to wear a sign that says “If you buy gas the terrorists will win”
    That would be really funny.

  3. Ya know… there is only one sure cure for stupidity… and it involves a pine box …

    Ignorance can be cured. Stupidity is terminal

  4. A few years ago a high school kid in our town was hit by a train as he walked down the tracks wearing headphones.  The engineer tried desperately to get his attention but the kid’s music was cranked way up.  Or so we surmise.  There was a lot of outrage against the railroad – they should have fences, there should be stronger laws, they should be sued, etc.

    My oldest son wrote a very mature, reasonable editorial for the high school paper saying the kid was responsible for his own death and the railroad was not in any way responsible.  For this he got a lot of anger from other students, got called into the principal’s office and lectured about “journalistic responsibility,” and after that his editorials had to be vetted before publication.

  5. Lectured about “journalistic responsibility” by the principal, that is the problem with society today.  The ‘leaders’ be they in education, politics, religion, etc. all are so busy protecting their asses, bowing to the majority (even if they are wrong), and telling everyone how they ought to do something that when a voice of honesty does speak up it is punished, shouted down, or dismissed as unresponsible, a troublemaker, or an idiot.

    I know you must be proud of your son and it must bother you that he was censured when he was definiely right in his opinion of the situation.  I know it certainly bothers me.

  6. I think society should be able sue parents for irresponsibly raising their children. Class action suits…

    I hate lawyers, but I am surprised one has not come up with a way to do this.

    This child’s actions, stupid as they may be, will cost his community for his medical bills will be covered by insurance, or the state.

    When enough morons harm themselves, without killing themselves, they drive the cost of health insurance up as surely as when they have car accidents, harming the rest of us.

    A friend of mine likes to joke that in NY you need to have a license to drive, cut hair and be a massuse, but any asshole with reproductive organs can breed… sometimes I wonder if that is a good thing 🙁

    Raising a child is the ultimate responsiblity a person can take on. I may only have a step daughter who has been in my life for 4 years or so (she is now 9, and her mother and I were married this year after dating for a while) but the most important thing that we have taught her is how to not only think for herself, but critical thinking… this should be taught in all schools, and maybe it would help stem the tide of stupidity.

    Is this a bit meandering… maybe… long day smile

    captcha = indeed

  7. Regarding shelli’s post – this kid, should he live (if you can call what he faces such) will need no tat for identification.  And it’s highly doubtful he’ll ever find himself in a position to reproduce.  Not too many dates in this poor idiot’s future.  An amazing example of Evolution in Action.

  8. I basically agree with any of you and I do not want to defend the boy, but you talk as if nothing would ever happen to you. Who among you can seriously claim that they never did anything wrong? I know this fact went too far, but sometimes we just like to exceed and this is especially true when we’re talking about USA.
    I do remember I did something stupid when I was 5. I was on a moped (no, I was not driving!) and I (accidentally) put one foot into the wheel. Well, the truth is that I sort of did that on purpose, to see what would have happened. Silly me. I guess you can be reckless at 5, but the society won’t forgive that at 15. As a general rule, I try not to judge, but we sure have the right to comment!
    Bye everyone

  9. Silvia – Yes we do make mistakes but this fails miserably in that category.  There are so many other avenues that these youths could have pursued to gain the knowledge that they sought after.  Supposedly they just wanted to see what it felt like to run with burning clothes on.  Assuming this is the case, why not talk to a local firefighter or other trained personnel?  They showed no critical thought process whatsoever, aside from adding accelerate.  At the age of 15 that is not a mistake, that’s stupidity.

    As far as parental liability I think it’s a mixed bag.  Some parents do a horrible job in raising their children and somehow the child turns okay.  Other parents do a seemingly decent job and the kid just goes south.  Granted, the more parental guidance the better but as far as getting some sort of legal decision?

    I have had a few disagreements with parents in public with regards to their children.  I have no problem in showing my dissatisfaction in a child’s or teenager’s behavior and asking the parent to correct it.  I don’t allow children to address me by first name and I get a lot of respect from the kids in my neighborhood because they know exactly what to expect from me each and every time they come encounter me.  Helps being 6’1”, 235 lbs too.

  10. Silvia, there is a considerable difference between being a five year old who does something stupid and being a 15 year old who does something stupid. You would think that by the age of 15 most kids would have been taught that dousing oneself in gasoline and then setting themselves on fire might be an unnecessarily risky thing to do.

    You’re right, though, that we’ve all done boneheaded things. I can recall an incident I did myself involving gasoline that resulted in the temporary loss of my eyebrows.

    I was attempting to recreate an experiment I had seen on Mr. Wizard where he used a little bit of gasoline in a coffee can to blow the lid off of it. The can had a small ignition hole on the side of it made with a nail. It’s the same principle behind the spud guns or tennis ball cannons you sometimes read about (and I had my own tennis ball cannon years later). Anyway, I got an old coffee can and made the hole and put it on the small cement porch off the back of our garage. Added a small amount of gasoline, put the lid on, and struck a match.

    Sure enough, it blew the lid off just like on TV. What I didn’t realize, however, was that I had put in more gasoline than I needed to and some of it had leaked out onto the small porch and was currently burning itself off. I was worried about the puddle spreading towards the house itself, though, so I figured I should put the fire out and that was when I made my mistake.

    I ran over and grabbed the garden hose which I had already laid out with the water turned on and a spray nozzle connected for just such an emergency. The little cement porch was more like a step as it was a poured concrete block of about maybe 5 feet by 5 feet so there wasn’t a lot of room for the burning gasoline to go anywhere and made it uncomfortably close to the house. I stepped up onto the porch and placed myself between the fire and the garage thinking that if the puddle moved when hit with the water it would go away from the garage. I didn’t expect this to be a big deal because the flames were all of an inch high at most.

    Clearly I had given this more than a little thought, but the one thing I hadn’t considered was that I lacked the knowledge of what happens when you spray a gasoline fire with water under pressure. When I squeezed the handle on the nozzle and the water hit the gasoline that little inch or so high flame suddenly shot up in a wall of fire about a foot in front of me. It startled me so badly I lept through the fire into the yard, singing my eyebrows off in the process.

    I learned a valuable lesson that day at the expense of my eyebrows and I was fortunate enough not to be injured more severely, but even then at that age (I think I was all of 10 or 11) I was smart enough not to soak my own shirt in gasoline and then strike a match to it. My mistake was a lack of knowledge about how to properly contain the fire if it got out of hand. This kid’s mistake was that he was a complete moron who apparently thought he was fireproof.

  11. Oh, it’s not at all that anyone here can claim never to have done something stupid at some point in their lives.  It’s just that there’s ignorance and there’s flat-out willful stupidity.  Nobody expects a five-year-old to know what will happen if they put their foot in a wheel.  But by the time you’re fifteen, you really expect that EVERYONE knows that if you douse yourself in something flammable and then light it, you are going to hurt yourself very, very badly.  (It’s clear that he KNEW it was flammable, which is why he encouraged his friends to light him up.)

    This is less a case of ignorance and more a case of a dangerous, contrasurvival lack of common sense.  It’s the same thing that causes adults to challenge the laws of physics and lose (if you get going fast enough and run into something, it will be BAD).  They KNOW what will happen and yet they do it anyway, mostly for the thrill of (they hope) getting away with it, beating the odds.  Except that nobody beats the odds forever, and if you’re really stoopid, you stack the odds against you all by yourself.

    (“side”)

  12. Just for the record, the sue the parent’s thing was tounge in cheek…

    But there is something to be said for personal responsibility. I think we all have the right to be a total schmuck and all but kill ourselves … but don’t expect us to pick up the pieces of your folly

    This boy was not ignorant, he was stupid, and I really have little sympathy for him. Does this make me a bad person? I hope not, I am just realistic about certain things and well, there is nothing intelligent or redemable about dousing yourself in petrol and trying to become Johnny Torch from the Fantasitc Four

    Hey!
    Maybe the parents will sue Marvel Comics?

    Comics? Well the captcha is “issue” smile

  13. That whole idea of blaming other people for someone’s stupid mistake seems pretty ridiculous to me.  This kid should be expected to take responsiblity for his own actions.  You can’t blame anybody but him.  Sure, it’s easy to go after the parents, but remember, they’re only raising their kids the same way they were raised, so really, shouldn’t we blame the grandparents? Or how about we go back even farther?  Come on, everybody, let’s go dig up the dead bodies of this kid’s ancestors and scold them for producing such a dipstick!  Yeah right.  Come on, people.  I will consent that there should be some parental liability, but this kid is fifteen and even if he has complete morons for parents, he should have learned the dangers of gasoline in school.

  14. MagicToad’s entry reminds of that old Sunday School song:

    Father Abraham had many sons, and may sons had father Abraham,  La da da tah dah, da da da dah…  It’s all HIS fault!

  15. Wow!  I left for a few hours and when I came back, this topic has just EXPLODED!!!

    Sorry.  No, really, I apologize.  That was uncalled for.  I am a horrible person.  cool smirk

    Thanks, Momma, I certainly am proud of my son – of all three of ‘em.  (Mrs. DOF corrects my memory: it was the dean who chewed out my son, not the principal.  But otherwise I got it right.) My son was totally right, and his editorial was very well written.  Every time I think of it I want to call that guy up and tell him off all over again.

    If you injure yourself in an exceptionally stupid way you might deserve sympathy for your pain but the sympathy comes to a screeching halt the moment you start to blame anyone else for it. 

    However… I wonder if the kid who burned himself was allowed to play with firecrackers, matches, etc.?  I did (under controlled circumstances,)  and also had a soldering iron that I used a lot, so I knew what very small burns felt like.  The gasoline stunt would NOT have occurred to me.

    Are we keeping our kids too safe?  Those little injuries of childhood serve an important purpose.

  16. Are we keeping our kids too safe?  Those little injuries of childhood serve an important purpose.

    Interesting … I have been thinking the same for a while now, really ever since I realized I was going to become a stepfather and poof! have a 9 year old girl under my care.

    I think the small screwups, colds, sicknesses, and related childhood cockups are essential. We need to protect our kids from the huge scale flameouts (sorry, I am a horrible person too…  big surprise  ) but allow them to make mistakes that they can learn from.

    I was caught stealing my old man’s Pall Mall red cigarettes when i was around 11 or so. He went to his room, grabbed a Cohiba #2 from his humidor, and made me smoke the thing. Did it stop me from smokeing.. nope… but it did teach me something… never inhale a cigar 😀

    Whats my point? What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

    As long as the kid has the inate ability to learn from his or her mistakes, its better to let them screwup from time to time than to try and raise them in a bubble… as too many people are doing nowadays…

    Hmm… I see a longer post comming from this… after a few drinks later maybe …

    -j-

  17. I read an article in Time Magazine a couple of months ago about the development of the brain and the author made a scientific case for the notion that teenagers’ brains are dramatically underdeveloped by nature and that accounts for some of the stupid things that they do. I agree with the assesment. I remember a drastic difference in my “maturity” between the ages of 18 and 24 (I have my journals to prove it.)
    The exact thing describe on this blog happened in my neighborhood about six years ago. A kid who lives three doors down from me doused himself with gasoline and lit a match. He claims he wasn’t suicidal, just curious. Unfortunately, his curiosity damaged about 80% of his body. Fortunately his face wasn’t affected and when he’s fully clothed (wearing long pants, not shorts) you can’t tell there’s anything wrong. And he’s had a couple of girlfriends since, so the dating thing’s not a problem. I used to jump of the roof of my dad’s two-story house when I was fifteen and injured my back, something I still live with 22 years later.

  18. About the kid who was hit by a train…most people don’t know that trains are not as easy to hear as you might think when you’re directly in front of them. Most of the loudest sound projects from the sides. By the time the horn is loud enough to wake someone from a reverie, the train can’t be stopped in time.

    And, yeah, I used to play on the railroad tracks. I’m sure I gave at least one engineer his share of heart palpitations by jumping off the tracks almost before it was too late. Man, I was a dumb kid. :p

    Then again, my dad tells the tale of how he had to hang off a trestle by his hands when a train came along, so maybe it runs in the family.

  19. most people don’t know that trains are not as easy to hear as you might think when you’re directly in front of them… By the time the horn is loud enough to wake someone from a reverie, the train can’t be stopped in time.

    Interesting about the sound.  Sounds like a good problem for accoustic engineers – to come up with a special horn that would amount to a sonic weapon to force pedestrians off the track.  It could project 1970’s bubblegum rock or something.

    The notion that a train should stop is problematic.  People need to understand that trains can’t stop.  A human being on foot is many times more manuverable than a train.  Ergo, there are NO circumstances where it is the train’s fault when a pedestrian is hit by a train.

    The Chicago Tribune Magazine had a cover story a couple weeks ago about the agony suffered by train engineers after they hit pedestrians.  Post-traumatic stress and so forth.  I know people who commit suicide are drowning in their own pain, but I wish they’d think about the pain they cause others in their last act.

    I played around trains, too, and so did my kids.  I think we all understood that the train would kill us, so we were in a state of heightened awareness when the train was near.  Walkman headphones were decades in the future when I was a kid, though. 

    Underdeveloped teenage brains – on the basis of that evidence I’d like to see a third tier of legal status for teens.  Something between “Juvenile” and “Adult” so teens who commit serious crimes could receive rehabilitation.

    But I can’t put it all on underdeveloped teenage brains.  I have a friend who was hit by a truck while bicycling at 6:00 am… wearing headphones.  He was a 55-year-old high school teacher.  Presumably he was listening to NPR Morning Edition as he liked to do, but he can’t remember.  He did learn to walk again, though, and his speech is more understandable than it used to be.

  20. I haven’t been in school for some time but I would hope that common household chemicals that go BOOM is covered in science class sometime before grade 10.  I want to hold some Adult to some form of resposiblity, where’d they get the gas?  But then again I Really hate stupid people!  I am also forced to ask just how high were these kids? did they bother to blood test for drugs?  I have heard of kids playing with gasoline burning themselves, but dousing onself with gas much less throwing matches/fire-crackers at your friend who has done so seems so Stupid I have trouble believe that people not intoxicated could pull it off.  Yet again the stupidity of the species disgusts me.

  21. I haven’t been in school for some time but I would hope that common household chemicals that go BOOM is covered in science class sometime before grade 10.

    I am not sure that all schools have meaningful science classes any more, and even fewer science classes have demonstrations that involve fire.  I also think that parents are important.

    As somebody mentioned earlier, I wonder if kids are allowed to do enough of the relatively minor stupid dangerous things that teach them not to do that any more.  When I was a kid, I played with knives and learned not to cut myself (very often).  I played with gasoline, rubbing alcohol, model airplane fuel, candles, matches, fireworks, lighter fuel, butane, acetylene welding torches, soldering irons, and many other interesting things; sure, I burned myself; but I also knew enough not to douse myself in gasoline or alcohol or to play with fire in the house (although I did play with fire in the basement).  I also played with electricity, and got the shit shocked out of me, but I also knew enough not to get killed.

    When I was growing up there were a number of house fires caused by kids playing with matches in closets.  I suspect that the kids were playing in the closet because their parents did not allow them to play with matches.  I would never have considered playing with matches in a closet.

    Except maybe when I was a toddler, I don’t think that my parents put anything out of my reach or locked anything up. I knew where the matches were kept and there were all sorts of chemicals stored under the kitchen sink. There was aspirin and whos what else in the medicine cabinet.  I played in garages that had garden chemicals, gasoline, welding torches, and battery acid in it.  There was no such thing as the kids’ safety crap we have today, not even electrical outlet covers. 

    I also remember my mom and dad telling me not to play with electrical outlets—and why.  My dad shorted two lamp wires together so I could see the spark, pop, and fell how the wires were hot.  My mom told me about an uncle that had been electrocuted, she didn’t mention that he was an electrical lineman.  Another uncle accidentally shorted out a stove outlet, which was impressive. 

    Mom told me that some of the stuff under the sink and in the medicine cabinet were poisons, and explained to me what a poison was.  One time mom showed me what laundry bleach would do to an old pair of underwear, and she told me that it would do the same thing to skin. 

    My grandpa took a shotgun shell apart so I could see what was in it, put the powder in an ashtray and lit it.  I was impressed by the large, hot flame.

    They weren’t trying to scare me, hell, some of the things they showed me were fun, they just wanted me know that this shit can be dangerous.  I was never scolded for playing with dangerous things, nor did I get much sympathy when I burned myself or ruined a toy, usually just a “you shouldn’t do that, then”.  Occasionally I was reminded that I could get hurt for doing something they saw me doing, or they would point out a hazard that I wasn’t aware of.  Dad or grandpa would sometimes show me something interesting (and dangerous), and then say “don’t tell your mom that I showed you that”.  Sometimes I was shown the proper way to do something that I was doing wrong.  I was never afraid to play with electricity, fire, or chemicals and I was never seriously injured by them.

  22. I forgot another reaction I would get when I hurt myself while doing something stupid: “That’s what happens when you do that”.

  23. IDM, it sounds like your parents were really smart. 

    My dad ran over a shoe with the lawnmower and invited me to imagine what my foot would look like had it been inside.  He also had me shoot a soldered-shut coffee-can of water with the shotgun so I could estimate the effect on a person.

  24. They were smart about it, but I think that it was because they grew up on farms and they had grown up around dangerous things.  Seeing a shoe being shredded by a lawnmower certainly would be a good way to get someone’s attention. Shooting a soldered-shut coffee-can of water must have been cool.  I developed a respect for guns from seeing what shotguns did to ducks and geese and what rifles did to deer.  Gun safety is something that parents should teach their kids. Some parents don’t want their kids to know ANYTHING about guns, they aren’t even allowed to play with cap guns.

    I am wondering what is happening to the kids that are not allowed to play on their own, their play is constantly supervised and structured.  Some of these kids are being over scheduled to death.  ‘Hyper-parenting’ or over-scheduling has been shown to cause increased stress, anxiety and physical ailments in children.

  25. IDM: Gun safety is something that parents should teach their kids. Some parents don’t want their kids to know ANYTHING about guns, they aren’t even allowed to play with cap guns.

    My parents never allowed me to have a cap or water pistol although my younger brothers did – the eldest always blazes the trail.
    I shot off a 12 gauge shotgun once on a farm some time in my early teens.
    There’s nothing anyone needs to know about firearms other than they can kill things they’re aimed at and there’s no such thing as an empty firearm.
    Within a week of my being conscripted into the army in ‘69 I could strip and put together an FNSLR as fast as the best and hit things I aimed at better than most.
    Haven’t owned a firearm since and I have no desire to shoot one.
    I think of them as an over-rated penile extension.  smile

  26. There’s nothing anyone needs to know about firearms other than they can kill things they’re aimed at and there’s no such thing as an empty firearm.

    The problem is that they are not even taught that much.  They then find a gun at a friend’s house and tragedies happen.

  27. “nothing anyone needs to know…”

    Ehh… I don’t know.  Some gun-safety rules are not quite so obvious, such as never putting your finger into the trigger guard until you are ready to fire, and being very careful to separate .410 and 12ga shells (to avoid a 410/12 burst).  Or laying the gun flat on the ground, not leaning up against the fence, when climbing over.  Or the fact that the shooter is responsible for the projectile until it comes to a full and complete stop (thus the necessity of visualizing the bullet’s entire potential path, not just the immediate target.)  Or the fact that very cheap guns are more prone to malfunction, which makes them more dangerous than high-quality ones. 

    Even if one never handles guns personally, a knowledge of gun safety is important to spotting careless gun handling in those who do.  That is useful information in deciding who to avoid.

    But I think I undstand what you mean.  I grew up surrounded by guns, but haven’t felt the need for them in adult life.

    IDM – yes, shooting the coffee can was cool!  The shock wave in the water blew it almost in half.  Ever serious, my dad told me; “That could be a person’s head.” Which led to another lesson, to remain calm and focused when handling guns – with the goal of preventing accidents.

  28. IDM: They then find a gun at a friend’s house and tragedies happen.

    In Oz, unless you were visiting a farm you’d be pushin’ shit up hill to ‘find’ one.
    I know a few gun owners and all their weapons are in locked steel cupboards/containers.
    There aren’t a lot of pistols about in Oz (except for cops, security personnel and crims) although my mate had a little seven (yes, 7) shot .22 revolver he hid in places round the house till I reminded him that when I was a kid I could find anything in a house; I think he got rid of it.
    Hand guns can go off at the most inopportune timesLOL

  29. Forget the handguns. There’s also the problem of airsoft guns. They look like the real thing, cause real damage (800fps!!) and are easy to conceal.

    And if discovered, you can say its a toy.

    I know some jerks who held up liqour stores with airsfot M16s

  30. In Oz, unless you were visiting a farm you’d be pushin’ shit up hill to ‘find’ one.
    I know a few gun owners and all their weapons are in locked steel cupboards/containers.

    That isn’t always the case in the US.  Legal gun ownership in the US is at an all time high and violent crime is down.  I saw a figure that said that 40% of all US homes have guns.  I had seen on TV recently that there is a surge in first time handgun buyers.  Until fairly recently few guns were securely locked up.  Many people hung them on the wall, put them in a closet, in drawers, in open racks, or in a glass front cabinets.  Hard core gun owners usually lock their guns in a gun safe.  Some of the first time handgun owners are locking up their guns, usually in a small steel lockbox or they are using trigger locks.

  31. There are now fingerprint-opened lockboxes for handguns for about $300.  I’d think one of those screwed to the wall in your closet would be a good investment if you’re going to own a handgun. 

    Easy for a suburb-livin’ liberal like me to say home invasion is rare.  In some places, it’s common enough that it would irresponsible not to take it into account.  I read somewhere the best home defense weapon is a pool cue or a 9-iron.

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