‘She was engulfed in flames’: Local woman on road to recovery after tragic accident

Local News

GORDONSVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — A local woman is fighting for her life, after a tragic accident left her with third-degree burns on 85% of her body.

André and Charlie Xavier were preparing to open Patch Brewing Co. with their business partner. The soft opening was set for Sept. 12. Just two days prior, Charlie, a mother of two, was finalizing a project to make the brewery more family-friendly.

“Charlie, that morning, got up early. She was very excited to go and finish a chalkboard for the kids area, and she wants to do the finishing touch,” André said. “She was sanding the wood frame, and last thing I know is she kind of lost her balance a little bit. She dropped the sander and then, there was a spark, and then, an explosion happened, and she was engulfed in flames.”

Although he was not there at the time, André told 8News that his wife took a few steps, rolled, and was able to put out the fire herself. Moments later, Charlie called her husband.

“She told me she had been in an accident, she was burned. At first, I couldn’t believe the tales she was telling me,” he said. “I quickly realized that it was true.”

André said that Charlie was flown by helicopter to the Evan Haynes Burn Center at VCU Health on Sept. 10. She has been hospitalized in intensive care for the past 17 days, receiving daily surgeries to keep her alive.

“They really are doing a fantastic job here, in terms of her care,” André said. “I’m very thankful for their services to us, so I’m very humbled by that.”

André said that Charlie’s condition recently stabilized, but infection remains a major concern.

“She has a very, very long road, painful road to recovery,” he said. “I’m talking about years and years of physical therapy and surgeries. We have two small children. We have a 9-month-old little boy and a 4-year-old, and I think that is the reason why Charlie’s fighting so hard.”

André said that the community response has been overwhelming. Many local residents, as well as strangers from other parts of the world, have reached out to help, including with child care.

“We live in Charlottesville, so we’re trying to keep the most normal environment to them [the children],” he said. “We did talk to our 4-year-old, and he’s aware of the situation, but yet, he doesn’t really have a notion of time yet. So I don’t think he fully understands the severity of the situation yet, which, it’s okay. He’s a child and we want to minimize any kind of trauma to them.”

When Charlie was initially admitted at VCU, André said that she was given a low chance of survival. As each day passes, she proves to be stronger. But he also said that life for their family has been forever changed.

“Our life as we knew no longer exists,” André said. “We’ve been very blessed that God gave her a second chance. But, at this point, I still don’t know what life is going to be for us.”

André said that he has been able to communicate with Charlie. Although she has been intubated at times during her hospital stay, he said that she can hear him and that he can read her lips. The couple has been humbled by the outpouring of support and love from the community.

“In the face of tragedy, there’s actually something good coming out of it, and I think that is a modern-day miracle,” André said. “Charlie’s survival is a miracle, but also the ability of people, strangers to come together and pray for someone, and strangers to come together and be able to do good is restoring a kind of faith in humankind.”

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