ONLY ON WVLT: Burn Victim Talks About Rescuing Infant Daughter

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Sevier County (WVLT) - A young mother can barely walk after a fire scalds both her legs. Monday night we told you how Courtney Highley overcame her pain to save her 10-month old baby during a kitchen fire. Now Highley's out of the hospital.

Only Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy's sat down with the quick-thinking mom.

The fire's left physical and emotional scars. The fire itself was very small. It erupted in a pan while she was cooking french fries. She tried to put out, but dropped the pan, spilling the fire down her legs.

The fire is out, but it's impact still burns. We warn you some of these images are very graphic

"It felt like my skin was melting off. That's how bad it felt at first," Highley said.

Swollen and scarred, the memory of a fire is burned into Courtney Highley's feet.

"It was a nightmare, which I never thought would happen," Highley said.

Monday night she was cooking french fries. Just after 9:00.

"I just totally forgot about it and left it on the stove, walked back in the kitchen and it was on fire," Highley said.

Highley tried to put the pan in the sink, but the grease flames spread fast.

"When it dropped, the whole floor spread with fire, and my legs, I couldn't get my legs out of there fast enough," Highley said.

The pain blistering in her mind.

"It was like one of those horror movies I see when they spill hot oil on their legs and all their skin goes melting away," Highley said.

But that couldn't extinguish her motherly instincts to save her 10-month-old daughter, Cassidy.

"I didn't care about my legs hurting. I didn't feel them at that point," Highley said.

Highley grabbed her baby, then ran downstairs to apartment 304 for help.

"You can save a lot of people in bad situations if you're not afraid to jump in and act quickly," neighbor Carol Anderson said.

"It's terrifying w hen you're 12 hours away from your daughter with none of her own family. You just can't get there fast enough," Highley's mother, Terry Walsh, said.

Now Highley says it's getting to the burn center in Chattanooga that's not happening fast enough.

"We were on our way there and they said there's not point in coming because the doctors won't have time to see me," Highley said.

"So now we have wait till Thursday to take her," Walsh said.

Her feet sacrificed to save...

"The most important thing, more important than my feet," Highley said.

And as Cassidy learns to walk...

"With the help of people like me, she's getting around better than me at this point," Highley said.

It's her mom who to be needs carried...On the road to recovery.

Highley says doctors expect her to make a full recovery. She'll be able to walk again, and at this point will keep both her feet.

The bigger problem is how Highley will pay for her medical bills. She's a single mom and she says her boyfriend works, but she says they already have bills piled high. So that's adding to her anxiety.

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  • by Anne Location: Scott County on Oct 31, 2007 at 09:42 AM
    What a terrible situation. But it would help to have the reporter mention that moving a pan of burning grease is a bad idea - use a lid or larger pan to smother it,and get everyone out and call fire department.


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