SAN ANTONIO — An accident on Christmas Eve left a 14-year-old San Antonian in the hospital with burns to over most of his body. Two weeks later, the family is trying to cope as he recovers.
Presents still wait under the tree for Marcus Rutledge Jr., who spent Christmas morning and every day since in a bed at University Hospital.
"He goes, ‘Mom, did Santa Claus bring me what I asked for?’ And I'm like, ‘Yes, it's in the tree, they're waiting for you,’" said Marcus's mother, Corina Govea.
At a Christmas Eve gathering, Marcus was starting to perform an impromptu dance performance for his family.
“He’s just silly like that. He’s funny,” Govea said. “All of a sudden, we just hear him say, ‘Oh, I’ve been practicing for my grand finale,’ and we’re like, ‘What?’”
While attempting a handstand he fell onto a fryer full of hot cooking oil. He ended up with burns over 85% of his body.
As of Friday, he had undergone six surgeries. A seventh is scheduled for Monday.
When he saw what was happening, Marcus Rutledge Sr. leapt into action.
“I have 26 years of chef experience. First thing I ever did when you get a grease burn is you put flour on it, to stop the cooking process,” he said. "It was bad enough to see how it burned him. But if I hadn't thought fast, it could've been a lot worse."
Both parents have taken family medical leave from work, meaning that while the boy's treatment is covered by insurance, they don't have any income to get by.
“I couldn't go to work and be 100% while my son is going through this,” Rutledge Sr. said.
“Since I moved here, I’ve been working, and this is the first time I’ve taken a leave of absence,” Govea added. “I don't know... how my bills are gonna get paid.”
Marcus's sister set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with expenses. His classmates at Christa McAuliffe Middle School have since been helping raise money.
“Actually, the student council came up with the idea of doing a carnival, and whatever they raise would end up going to Marcus,” Govea said.
They say they appreciate the community's help until they can receive the real gift: their son's return home.
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