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Taxi Driver Covered In Burns After Incident With Hand Sanitizer Left Him Engulfed In Flames

Brian Hutchinson/Facebook

Sometimes doing the right thing gets us in trouble. But that’s an understatement for Brian Hutchinson, a taxi driver in Newcastle in the UK, who suffered severe burns after applying hand sanitizer.

While on his route, Hutchinson noticed a cigarette lighter had been left on the backseat of his vehicle. To prepare for his next fare, the driver removed the lighter from the seat.

But when he checked to see if it still worked, Hutchinson found himself in trouble.

Hutchinson had just applied a fresh layer of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to his hands, unaware that the liquid would be a fire hazard.

Hutchinson reflected on what he described as going “to Hell and back”: 

“I noticed there was a dropped lighter in the back seat off my car, I had just sanitized my hands, so I rubbed the palm on my leg to dry them, but the tops of my hands were still wet.”

“The back of my hand then caught alight, and then as I went to open the door to throw the lighter, my other hand caught alight. Then there was like a fireball inside the car that hit my face and went over my head.”

The “fireball” quickly spread to other areas of his body, extensively burning his arms and legs, and setting the whole top of his head ablaze.

Hutchinson confided:

“It lasted literally seconds but as you’ve seen from the pictures it has left me worse for wear.”

“I have been hospital for 7 weeks I have had skin grafts on both hands, on my head, and ears.”

Hutchinson lost consciousness while waiting for paramedics to arrive, who immediately provided him with Morphine to assist with the pain.

But when the medication began to dissipate, Hutchinson knew the trouble he was in. 

“When that wore off, I knew about it. The pain was horrendous.” 

There’s surely no such thing as a “good time” for an accident like this to happen, but Hutchinson’s accident could not have come at a worse time, as his wife, Becca Jordan, was only weeks away from delivering their second son.

Hutchinson proceeded to spend seven weeks in the hospital before being moved to the recovery unit for continued treatment. His son was born healthy just five weeks ago.

Though he’s now in recovery, his doctors continue to express concerns about his skin, which remains delicate and highly susceptible to tearing. The doctors suggested that Hutchinson will need to wear compression garments, potentially for years, to prevent this from happening.

Due to his sensitive condition, Hutchinson is currently unable to work. A family member created a GoFundMe page to support the family, including medical bills and supporting their two children.

Despite the long road ahead, Hutchinson was grateful for the care he received.

“I want to say a big thank you to all the staff on Ward 27 burns unit… I appreciate everything they have done for me.”

Twitter users were mortified for Hutchinson and hoped he’d heal quickly. 

With the pandemic continuing indefinitely, it’s important to continue to socially distance, wear a mask, and keep our hands clean. However, that is not to say that we should not also practice being careful, and that means, in part, handling flammable hand sanitizer with care.

McKenzie Lynn Tozan

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.