**This story has been relayed by Nathaniel in the hospital to his Family and correlated with the evidence at the Cook residence. He fortunately, or unfortunately, remembers every detail of the accident vividly. He only needs close his eyes and it is re-lived in his mind at any time, he is able to re-tell the story with consistency and confidence. This story may be changed as Nathaniel corrects any inconsistencies with my relaying of the story.
On July 2nd 2013, about 2:30 in the afternoon. 13 year old Nathaniel Cook was mowing lawn at the Cook home on Ormsby Rd in Deerbrook WI, just North of Antigo WI. He was home alone while George(Nathaniel's father) was in town at a chiropractor appointment and Angela and Amarah(Nathaniel's Mother and younger Sister) were down in Madison, WI finishing up a weekend of visiting with Family and Friends. While mowing, he discovered a large ant hill in the yard, and decided to burn it out. He went to find some lighter fluid and instead found a can of gas, not just regular gas, but Nitromethane, literally... rocket fuel, 20+ times more flammable than unleaded gasoline. It was left over from a gas powered RC race car he has. Unaware of the extreme danger, he applied the Nitromethane gas and lit the ant hill on fire causing the contents of the can in his hand to explode. As Nathaniel turned to avoid the sudden burst of flame, he was splattered with burning Nitromethane, starting his shirt, pants and body on fire, causing Nathaniel to be severely burned. He ran to the house blinded, ripping his burning clothes off, stumbling and running into things in the yard, He finally made it and immediately got into a cold shower. The best feeling he's ever felt coupled with the worst feeling he's ever felt. After a minute in the shower, despite the excruciating burning pain, Nathaniel gains his senses enough to know, he needs to get out and find his phone to get help. Everyone in the Family carries a personal cell phone, including Nathaniel. Unfortunately, such are the times, that there was no land-line at the Cook residence. A mistake well noted with 20/20 hindsight. Frantically He clamoured around the house practically blind, seeing only shadows, looking for his phone. The burning pain is so intense he can only stand it for several minutes before he gets back into the cool shower a 2nd time. Again, he exits the shower and knows he needs to get help or he will die, so he runs up the gravel driveway, burnt, bare-footed and naked, down the road toward the nearest neighbour. The sun shining and the hot pavement is causing his burns to blaze with pain, and he gives up after about 50 yards, so he turns around and makes it back to the house and the shower a 3rd time. Again, he gets out of the shower, again, he searches blindly for his phone. With all his amazing will-power to get help, and determination to save himself, he forgot his phone was in his shorts pocket, which the phone was now little more than black burned plastic and circuits in the yard, which wouldn't be found until days later by George. At this point, Nathaniel runs back out to the road, he hears a tractor or large vehicle coming down the road, he sees a red shadowy blur approaching, he's standing on the side of the road, jumping up and down, waving his arms, naked, burnt, screaming in pain "help! help! help!" He thinks, "I'm saved"..... and they drive right by.......his determination gone, He feels now he's surely going to die, he makes his way to the house, again, and this time lays down and feels he could give up, and wants to just go to sleep, But NO! He musters the energy, literally crying out to God to save him! He returns to the shower for a 4th time! Again, he gets out and now remembers there is one of the Family cars by the work-shop, 25 yards from the house. He goes there by muscle memory, still seeing only shadows, and gets in the car, but he doesn't drive, and he can't see the shifter letters and decides not to risk it, at the same time remembering the small 4-wheeler they have, which he finds near the car. He covers the hot black seat with a towel because its too painful to sit on and turns the key...nothing....so he pull starts it! He races out onto the road, shifting through all 5 gears, hearing the small engine screaming, maxing out the RPM's. He manages to drive by shadowy vision 3/10th of a mile to the nearest neighbours, Morris and Virginia Wegner's house. Nathaniel pulls into the driveway and notices the Wegner's garage door is closed..... He knows from experience, if the garage door is closed, odds are good they are home. So he thinks, "Thank you God I'm saved", and runs into the Wegner's house. 87 year old Morris Wegner sees Nathan and asks him what happened. Nate can't explain and just keeps screaming in pain the only thing he could think "911, 911, 911". Nathan remembers Morris stoically getting on the phone and calmly telling the 911 dispatch about the situation. Thankfully they sent the Flight-For-Life Helicopter right away. George was contacted while at his chiropractor appointment by the Sheriff and got to the Wegner Residence shortly after the Paramedics arrived by ambulance. He was immediately given strong IV medications and packaged for transport. The Helicopter landed in the agricultural field next to the Wegner's farm, Nathaniel was loaded up with his last memory being of falling asleep in pain. Nate made the hour+ flight to the UW-Madison Burn Center in critical condition. Nate was admitted to the Burn Unit ICU with 54% of his body burned in the 2nd and 3rd degree, on his back and torso, circumferencial burns to his arms and legs, other major burns to his neck and head, some of which are on his face and ears, as well as flash burn to his corneas(eyes) resulting in his blindness at the time. Angela got word shortly after the accident and was only an hour north of Madison on her way home. She turned around and went to the UW-Madison Burn Center. George also got ready immediately and started his way to Madison from Antigo. You can imagine the incredible fear, worry, pain, heartache, and mostly, the helplessness they felt not knowing if Nathaniel would live. The incredible staff at the UW-Madison Burn Center went right to work debriding and cleaning Nathaniels charred skin and flesh. After that he was dressed in a full body wrap, head to toe in special burn dressings, gauze, and compression wraps. He was stabilised yet in a precarious condition, put on a feeding tube through his nose, put on an auto-ventilator down his throat to ensure his breathing because of the possibility of burned mouth, throat, and lungs, several IV's, a catheter, numerous leads for monitoring vitals, and heavily sedated. Nate is now stabilised at the UW Madison Burn Center and will be in the hospital in the Burn Center ICU till at least September going through multiple skin graft surgeries. Angela and George have been put up at the Ronald Mcdonald House for a small fee per night. Thankfully Nathan's major medical bills will be covered by Insurance. But the extra expenses involved in living in Madison during his recovery, driving back and forth from Antigo and Madison and the additional cares and therapies not covered that Nathaniel will need during his recovery are a huge financial burden. In order to help with this burden this Fund Raiser has been set up. As many know, Nathan is a very sweet, wonderful, caring, funny, hearty, intelligent, brave, incredible, STRONG young man. With the high risk of infection and other medical issues associated with severe burns, Nathaniel is in for a long arduous fight. Nathaniel and his Family will need your thoughts and prayers everyday.
**Wow! I'm amazed how fast the initial goal of 10k was surpassed. What a great start to relieving the financial burden of Nathaniel's recovery. The extent and reality of Nathaniel's repairs and recovery are becoming more and more apparent everyday as a time frame for his healing is established. Nathaniel's primary Doctor has set a total recovery time of approximately 3 years. He'll remain in the UW-Madison Burn Unit till at least September having several skin graft surgeries and struggling through the intense healing that goes with them. Upon returning home Nathaniel will need regular rehab, as well as visits to various doctors appointments, first once a week, then bi-weekly, and finally, monthly. With a long term plan in place, and a better picture of the financial responsibility it will take, the Nathaniel Cook Recovery Fund will raise its goal to a final long term goal of 20k. The success of Nathaniel's healing, his health, and brighter future would not be possible without you. It is because of your compassion, and sacrifice Nathaniel's Family feels relief in a time of great difficulty. Thank you to all who have donated thus far and continue to share Nathaniel's story. We are humbled by the generosity and forever grateful. - Kerry Bloedorn
*Nathans Major hospital bills, which will be in the hundreds of thounsands of dollars, are covered by insurance. This fund will help defray the thouands of dollars of additional expenses involved in Nathaniel's recovery that are not covered, allowing Nathaniel to have the best and fastest recovery possible. The funds from this site go DIRECTLY into Angela Perry Cooks(Nathaniel's Mother) paypal account, accessible to Angela and George as it is needed. It is important to the integrity of this Family to be honest and forthright, hence the explanation of how these funds are processed and how they will be used.
**From Angela Perry Cook. I have received so many requests for an address to send things to Nathaniel. Here's two addresses depending on what you want to send.
To send things to his room:
UW of Wisconsin Hospital 600 Highland Avenue Madison, Wi 53792 Attention Burn Unit Nathaniel Cook
*he cannot have anything alive, as is carries bacteria. i.e. flowers/plants etc...
To send it to me:
Ronald McDonald House 2716 Marshall Ct Madison, Wi 53792