Child Survives Car Burning and Slowly Recovers
The video sends chills down the spine. The video shows a blazing SUV where a little boy is trapped in his car seat.
Rescuers had to cut 4-year-old David Harper's seatbelt to set him free. Once they got him out, they hosed him down to cool off his burning skin until an ambulance arrived. The video stunned America when it aired around the country almost a year ago.
INSIDE EDITION investigated how the badly burned boy is doing today.
The courageous youngster is recovering from 4th-degree burns to 30 percent of his body. DJ, as he is known, wears a special skin-tight suit virtually 24 hours a day to reduce scarring. The suit covers his head, his torso and his hands.
DJ's parents have been told to remove the suit only once a day, to apply ointment to his burns and to change his dressings.
His ears were so badly burned that surgeons couldn't save them, although DJ can still hear just fine. His hands are scarred, as is his back. His father says DJ is not in pain.
DJ's mother, Angela, was overcome with emotion as she watched the amazing video with INSIDE EDITION. "Oh my goodness. That's really hard for me because that's my baby," she said.
Angela told INSIDE EDITION that the SUV hit a tree and rolled onto its side after a moment's inattention at the wheel. She managed to pass her daughter to rescuers unharmed but couldn't get DJ out of his car seat.
At the scene, Angela was frantically directing rescuers. "I kept screaming, 'My baby. My baby's still in the car,' " the emotional mother said.
After he was rescued, DJ spent two months in the hospital.
HIs father James, a former army medic, made a heartwarming pledge when his son awoke.
James said, "He says, 'Daddy I don't have no hair.' And I said, 'Well son, I'll make you a promise. As long as you don't have hair, I'm not gonna have hair.' And every time I shave, I shave my head."
John Rechlitz is one of two hero firefighter brothers who were off duty when they risked their lives to rescue DJ. The accident happened right in his neighborhood. He's now a frequent visitor at the family home in Milwaukee.
"I watched his recovery and made sure the family is doing well," Rechlitz said.
DJ will have to wear the suit until he stops growing but his parents say almost nothing gets him down. "He's back to school. DJ's been doing really really great," his mom said.
You can find out more about a local charity that is accepting donations to help the family pay for David's care at www.helpingdavid.com.