SALT LAKE CITY – The mother of an 11-year-old boy who was wrapped in toilet paper and then accidentally set on fire says the whole thing started as prank by her son's 13-year-old brother.
"It was not intentional," Renee Morgan said during a news conference Tuesday at the University of Utah Hospital, where Tyler Morgan was in critical condition. "It was kids just playing and being kids."
Tyler and his brother Chris were playing a game with a group of neighborhood friends at an Orem park Monday when they wrapped Tyler in toilet paper against a pole, said Capt. Ned Jackson of Orem's public safety department.
They then wrapped more toilet paper around four poles in a pavilion to make a wrestling ring, Jackson said. Jackson said Tyler was a willing participant up to that point.
But one of the boys' friends used a lighter to set some of the toilet paper on fire, underestimating how quickly it would burn, Renee Morgan said.
When the fire began to spread, Chris Morgan began to try to stomp it out and accidentally set his foot on fire and lit the paper wrapped around his brother, their mother said.
Tyler Morgan suffered burns on 14 percent of his upper body, including his face, neck and ears.
He is being treated at University Hospital.
He already has a friend nearby — Bridger Hunt, who was critically injured July 24 by an exploding homemade firework.
Bridger Hunt's mother, Mindy Carter-Shaw, said that Tyler had called and e-mailed her daily to ask about her son's condition and visited him at Primary Children's Medical Center, which is next door to where Tyler is being treated.
"These two boys are inseparable. Bridger and Tyler have been best friends for years. They live around the corner from each other," Carter-Shaw said. "I can't believe it. This is unreal — unbelievable."
The Morgans' mother said the boy who lit the fire has been apologetic.
"Kids are going to be kids," she said. "They are going to experiment."