Fairfield U. student burned in incident seen by children

A photo from doingitlocal.com shows the intensity of the fire that severely burned a Fairfield University student at Tunxis Hill Park Thursday, Sept. 6.

A photo from doingitlocal.com shows the intensity of the fire that severely burned a Fairfield University student at Tunxis Hill Park Thursday, Sept. 6.

A Fairfield University student was burned over almost his entire body in an incident witnessed by young baseball players shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday.

Police identified the victim as Justin Hervey, 23, of Armonk, N.Y. He is registered in one class at Fairfield University, Sgt. Suzanne Lussier said.

Hervey was listed in critical condition with severe burns, according to Bridgeport Hospital spokesman John Cappiello. Cappiello could not release information about the severity of the burns.

The incident was initially reported as a motor vehicle accident with a person on fire near Tunxis Hill Park on Meville Avenue.

Video at doingitlocal.com shows heavy flames throughout the inside of the passenger compartment of the SUV.

A fire unit returning from a prior call arrived in two minutes after dispatch and found a Chevrolet Tahoe in the parking lot with heavy fire shooting into the air from all windows of the vehicle’s passenger compartment, according to Asst. Fire Chief Scott Bisson.

Firefighters also found adults from the nearby baseball field assisting a man on the ground burned over most of his body, according to Bisson.

“He suffered severe injuries to his entire body from the fire,” Lussier said. “Firefighters quickly extinguished the vehicle fire while simultaneously providing rapid medical care to the fire victim,” Bisson said in a press release.

Hervey was taken to the Bridgeport Hospital Burn Unit by American Medical Response.

The acrid smell of burned automotive parts still hung over the parking lot at Tunxis Hill Park as of 11 a.m. Friday. The remains of sterile sheets by emergency medical technicians littered the ground, and a pile of absorbent marked where fluids from the vehicle ran toward the baseball field.

Bisson said that one of the bystanders who helped put out the fire on Hervey suffered burns to the hands and sought medical attention privately. That person’s name was not released.

“The actions of the civilians that helped the burn victim with his injuries were heroic and should be applauded as they risked their personal safety to help another person in need.” Bisson said.

Children ages 10 to 12, from Fairfield Woods Middle School and Jennings Elementary School, were participating in the Fairfield Little League fall baseball program and saw Hervey running from the SUV, engulfed in flames, Lussier said.

Officials from Fairfield schools and the Parks and Recreation Department have been notified in case children who saw the incident need counseling, police said.

“Due to the traumatic nature of the incident that many young players witnessed, the parents of the children and the school system have been advised of the situation so that counselors will be available for anyone requesting assistance,” Bisson said.

Lussier said the cause remains undetermined.

Bisson said investigators remained on scene for more than two hours after the victim was transported to the hospital collecting witness statements and sifting through the scene. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Fairfield Police Department and the Fairfield Fire Marshal’s Office.

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