A Florida mother of five died after a backyard firepit accident that severely injured her 11-year-old son.
Nicole Foltz, 38, reportedly suffered burns on 95% of her body during a firepit accident in the backyard of her home in Tarpon Springs in Pinellas County last month.
The mother died at the hospital three days after the incident, and now the community is rallying around her family as they prepare for Christmas without the woman they described as their "ray of sunshine"
The woman’s husband, Jeffrey Foltz, recalled how they had a fire going in the backyard while spending time outdoors with their children and friends on Nov. 14.
"I had just gone inside and to my knowledge, she decided to try to keep the fire going, keep the fun going, and she put another log on it and there wasn’t much flame at all," he told FOX 13 Tampa. "But, she just, I guess felt to pour a little gas on it, and it would reignite, and it did. I guess it must’ve traveled the gas stream up to the gas can, and it exploded in her hands."
The explosion also struck Foltz’s 11-year-old son, and they were both transported to Tampa General Hospital.
Jeffrey Foltz said the boy has second-degree burns on close to 40% of his body.
He was hospitalized for 12 days and recently returned home.
"He’s staying pretty strong. I’m sure the whole crew there was really surprised to hear that two days after we got home he was walking," the elder Foltz told FOX 13.
"I never left his side in the hospital, which is difficult, especially because I feel bad for other children there. I can see how it is to not have somebody that can be there for ya by your bedside 24-7," the dad and now widower also told WFTS-TV.
"It’s just one of those senseless acts you don’t expect to happen in your family," he added. "Gasoline is not a joke when it comes to fire. You have to be careful or just don’t do it at all."
"I don't want to read about somebody else's family having to go through this. It's unimaginable," he said.
The family plans to turn the fire pit into a birdbath, something the mom had always wanted.
"Accidents do happen, and they can ruin your life," Jeffrey Foltz told FOX 13. "She touched people in ways that I can’t even grasp."
"Just all around, one of the best, genuine people. She had a fierceness to her. Everybody loved her," he said.
Nicole Foltz was a manager and server at Tarpon Tavern, which started a fundraiser to for her family.
"She always put a smile on everyone’s face," Ania Bozena, owner of Tarpon Tavern, said. "She absolutely loved her work, where everybody adored her not just for her hard work, but also personality and friendship."
"She was a devoted wife to her amazing husband Jeff. But most of all, she was a great mother who always put her family first," Bozena added. "Here at Tarpon Tavern and our sister restaurant The Bistro, which is located next door, we miss her terribly."