GAINESVILLE, Texas – The mother of four children who were badly burned by sulfuric acid is telling authorities that the man she was traveling with in a pickup truck tried to throw the substance on her during an argument, but it ended up on the children, Cooke County Sheriff Michael Compton said Thursday afternoon.
Compton said that they are in the process of preparing charges against the man, who has not yet been arrested.
The mother, 43-year-old Cynthia Darlene Stout, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of child endangerment after three of the children, ages 14, 7 and 4, were left at a cafe in Woodbine. The fourth child, an 18-month-old, was left with a woman at a nearby residence, Compton said.
The sheriff said the woman washed the infant down with water, which he said may have minimized the child's injuries.
Stout remained in jail on Thursday afternoon on $100,000 bond. A jail official said an attorney was not listed for Stout.
All four of the children were flown by air ambulance to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. A Parkland spokeswoman said Thursday that they cannot release any information on the patients.
Compton said it was unclear why sulfuric acid was in the truck. He said the woman told authorities they had the chemical because of a clogged drain.
The incident occurred about 4 p.m. Wednesday in Woodbine, an unincorporated community about eight miles from Gainesville, the Cooke County seat. Gainesville is about 60 miles north of Dallas.
Compton said Stout was apprehended trying to leave the scene.
Compton said deputies were able to locate the burned infant through witnesses at the scene.
Dr. Gary Purdue, a professor of surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center and co-director of the burn center at Parkland, said that the effect of chemical burns is similar to burns from fire.
Purdue, who is not treating these children, said that with chemicals, the burn continues until it is washed off with water. He said that a second-degree burn will heal by itself, but a third-degree burn would need a skin graft.