HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Henrico County mother is calling for justice for her son after he was hospitalized with second- and third-degree burns from a lighter while in class.
Ronica Wilson spoke with 8News on Thursday, as her eighth-grade son continued his recovery in the burn unit.
“You only have one life to live, and that’s all you have,” she said. “I’m scared for him.”
Authorities said that the School Resource Officer (SRO) was on the property and responded until fire officials arrived to render aid. The Henrico Fire Marshal’s Office has since charged a teen with unlawful wounding. That case will be heard in Juvenile and Domestic Court.
Wilson said it was a normal day at school, until it wasn’t.
“I went to work, I dropped my son off, said, ‘I love you,’ kissed him, and, ‘Have a great day at school,'” she said. “Have a great day at school.”
Wilson said that her son described being in his math classroom. He said it was lunch time and he was getting up to throw away his trash.
“While he was there, I guess, the girl somehow ran up and flicked the lighter on the side of his face and he went up,” Wilson said. “You can only imagine how a 13-year-old would feel at that moment. You’re not an adult. You don’t know what to do. He’s probably scared, and I’m scared for him.”
John Rolfe Middle School Principal Debbie George sent the below message Wednesday afternoon to families with a student in the class:
Good afternoon, families. This is Ms. George, principal of John Rolfe Middle School. I’m calling to let you know about an incident that took place in your child’s science class today. A student was burned by a classmate who was playing with a lighter. The injured student was taken to the hospital and is receiving treatment. Here at school, we are reviewing the incident to ensure something like this does not happen again and taking appropriate disciplinary action as necessary. Thank you.
Although the message described the incident happening in science class, Wilson said that’s not where it started. She said that her son only ended up in the science classroom after adults in the building tried to help put the fire out.
“He said it really hurt. He said it was hot and that his ear hurts a lot,” Wilson said. “Other than that, he said he’s okay. He’s a trooper, you know. He’s real strong. He’s real strong. He’s stronger than me.”
Since the incident, Wilson said that her son’s classmates have reached out to her, saying they are going to cut their hair in solidarity with their friend.
“I want justice. I just want children all to know that it’s not a game out here,” she said. “Actions that you make in this world have consequences. Don’t think that you’re going to get missed just because you’re you. It can happen to anyone.”