Teen recovering after explosion [UPDATED]Published 11:32am Thursday, June 14, 2012 Updated 8:09am Friday, June 15, 2012
Ryan Melchior, the 17-year-old Ottertail boy who was burned in a black powder explosion, is recovering well, according to family.
Melchior’s father, Tim, said his son is expected to be released from the Hennepin County Medical Center on Friday or Monday.
“He’s doing OK,” said Tim. “I think he’s rounded the corner.”
It has been a tumultuous couple of weeks for Perham High School student Ryan and his loved ones. On May 30, Ryan received second degree burns on about 20 percent of his skin when some black powder he was attempting to burn exploded near Ottertail.
Tim said that contrary to the sheriff’s office report, his son was not playing with the powder and was trying to get rid of it by wetting it down and burning it off in small portions. The sheriff’s office stands by its initial report based on witness interviews, however.
Either way, much more of the 80-year-old pound of powder ignited than Ryan anticipated, resulting in an explosion that left parts of the wet powder clinging to his clothing as they burned.
“He had the presence of mind to rip the clothes off that were on fire,” Tim said.
Paramedics arrived and transported Ryan to Perham Health, where he was stabilized before being taken by Life Flight to the intensive care unit at HCMC. Though he was conscious upon arrival at the medical center, physicians there sedated him for a couple of days because he was suffering intense pain.
Since then, however, he has been recovering. Doctors treated the burns on his face and applied skin grafts from his thighs to his chest and arms. All of his pressure bandages and staples have been removed, and he is now involved in stretches and occupational therapy (which he will continue for more than a year).
“It could have been a lot worse,” said Tim. “If the powder wasn’t 80 years old, it had the potential to have the explosive power of a stick of dynamite.”
A fund for Ryan’s benefit has been set up at the General Mills Federal Credit Union. Donations can be sent to the Ryan Melchior Fund, C/O General Mills Federal Credit Union, 9999 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka, MN 55305. Checks should be made out to GMFCU – 21004272.
Tim lives in Columbus and works for General Mills, and Ryan’s mother Lynn Blaha Melchior lives in Ottertail and works for the Zion Lutheran Church in Amor. Tim said both of their employers, as well as their families and friends, have been a huge help and support during Ryan’s hospital stay and recovery.
Ryan often works odd jobs in the Ottertail. Some of his favorite pastimes are hunting, fishing and working on cars, and Tim said Ryan hopes to get back to those activities soon.