Refinery burn victims on the road to recovery

By Melanie Ruberti - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - It's been a long, hard journey for Karen Seckinger. But it's been even harder for her son Paul. He was burned over 80 percent of his body in the explosion and has remained in Augusta recovering from his injuries.

Karen says the first three months were the hardest for Paul and the family. "Pneumonia would develop or a new infection. Or his blood pressure would go down or his temperature would rise and they'd have to pack him in ice. So there was a lot of things along the way that you would sit there and wonder if he was going to make it through the day," she said.

Paul did make it through those first days. It's been the past three months that have been the roughest for him, physically and mentally. "He's had to learn to walk again," Karen explained," His hands and arms are his major problems. He's thinking about 'what am I going to be able to do now?'" she continued," He's thinking about how is he going to support his daughter. So all that's going through his mind. It's a challenge, but he's handling it well."

But the past six months have also been spiritually challenging for Paul and the entire Seckinger family. " You want to say, 'Why did this happen to us?' But we have to trust God. We have a lot of faith," Karen smiled.

It's because of that faith that Karen doesn't like to dwell much on the past. She instead looks forward to the future, one that includes Paul home and healing. He still faces a year or more of rehab, but Karen says at least, he'll be surrounded by his family and friends. "I just try to think about that we're blessed he survived this catastrophic event," she exclaimed, "We're all so thankful and grateful that he's come through this.

But Karen says the community won't be complete until all the victims are home. So she, and other families, say once everyone is back, they will hold a big celebration for all the victims and their families.

Twenty victims were flown the night of the Imperial Sugar explosion to the Joseph M. Still burn center in Augusta. Sadly five passed away, three, including Paul, still remain there. The other two are in critical condition in the ICU.