MIAMI – A 15-year-old doused with rubbing alcohol and set on fire after he turned in another teen for trying to steal his father's bicycle is at extremely high risk for organ failure and infection, his doctor said Wednesday.
Michael Brewer was heavily sedated and breathing with a ventilator at Jackson Memorial Ryder Trauma Center and Dr. Nicholas Namias said he is doing as well as can be expected but is not "out of the woods yet."
Brewer's troubles started when 15-year-old Michael Bent gave him a video game and expected him to pay $40 for it, Broward County Sheriff's Office spokesman Jim Leljedal. Brewer never paid for the game, which authorities would not identify, so Bent tried to steal a $500 custom bike that belonged to Brewer's father, Leljedal said.
Brewer called authorities over the weekend and Bent was arrested, then released Monday. Brewer refused to attend classes at his middle school that day and instead went to a Deerfield Beach apartment complex to visit a friend. He told deputies that while he was sitting by the swimming pool, he was splashed with rubbing alcohol and set ablaze.
A neighbor heard his screams for help and put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, said his sister, Malissa Durkee. The teen ripped off his shirt and jumped into the pool, but he was still burned over 65 percent of his body.
Bent and four other teens — 15-year-old Denver Jarvis, Steven Shelton and Jesus Mendez and 13-year-old Jeremy Jarvis — were charged with aggravated battery in the attack. Mendez also was charged with attempted second-degree murder because authorities say he flicked the lighter.
Namias said Brewer's face was not badly burned. But he said the teen suffered burns on his torso and arms and most of his hair, including his eyelashes, had also been burned off. He is expected to remain hospitalized for several months and is at extremely high risk of infection and organ failure.
"This is a life-changing event," Namias said.
Bent and the Jarvis brothers were in court Tuesday and were ordered held in a juvenile detention center for 21 days. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that attorney Stephen Melnick said Jeremy Jarvis was "just there. He was not accused of actually doing it." Attorneys for two others said they were "minimally involved."
The five were not charged as adults but a sheriff's office spokesman said it typically releases the names of anyone charged with a felony, regardless of age.