Wed | Apr 24, 2024

‘It’s just a miracle’

Family relieved with burn victim’s remarkable recovery after beating odds to survive

Published:Wednesday | February 21, 2024 | 12:15 AMAinsworth Morris/Staff Reporter
Burn victim Alecia King (third right) cutting a celebratory cake on her return to the island on Tuesday with (from left) Mark White, director of Sanmerna Foundation; Stephen Joseph, also of Sanmerna; her stepmother Julia Mendez; Andre Harris, hotel manager
Burn victim Alecia King (third right) cutting a celebratory cake on her return to the island on Tuesday with (from left) Mark White, director of Sanmerna Foundation; Stephen Joseph, also of Sanmerna; her stepmother Julia Mendez; Andre Harris, hotel manager, AC Hotel; Robert White, director of the Sanmerna Foundation.
Alecia King (centre) is hugged by her stepmother, Julia Mendez, in a joyous moment at an event to give an update on her recovery on Tuesday. Sharing in the moment with them are (from left) Stephen Joseph, project manager at the Sanmerna Foundation, and Dir
Alecia King (centre) is hugged by her stepmother, Julia Mendez, in a joyous moment at an event to give an update on her recovery on Tuesday. Sharing in the moment with them are (from left) Stephen Joseph, project manager at the Sanmerna Foundation, and Directors Mark White and Robert White.
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When Alecia King – the then-17-year-old who was severely burnt in her sleep last August, allegedly by her 18-year-old ex-boyfriend – began bleeding uncontrollably after surgery at a Texas hospital in the United States, the doctors gave her three hours to live. She is extremely happy that she managed to beat those odds.

Speaking at a welcome-home reception at the AC Hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday evening, Stephen Joseph, project manager at the Sanmerna Foundation, said the frightening situation unfolded after a surgery a few months ago, and the doctors appeared unable to stop it.

But a miracle happened a mere two minutes before the three hours expired.

King’s stepmother, Julia Mendez, recalled the troublesome experience, noting that the ordeal and the six months of treatment proved very stressful for the family.

“They didn’t tell me at the time [that they were on the verge of declaring her dead]. They told me after, but I was worried. I was like, ‘Why they stay in the surgery so long?’ When she came back, she was just bleeding, bleeding, bleeding. The bed was wet with blood, and they continued to give her blood,” Mendez told The Gleaner.

“It’s just a miracle. Mi just glad when we reach home last night. I stayed with her the whole six months,” said the woman, who kept King in her care and protection after both her parents died.

When it was time for the now-18-year-old King to give her speech in Jamaica on Tuesday evening, she thought of one thing: singing the gospel song For Your Glory by Tasha Cobbs, which Mendez would often sing in prayer while they went through their wilderness in the last quarter of 2023.

The teenager was doused with gasolene and set ablaze as she slept at a relative’s house in Redwood, St Catherine, last August. Her ex-boyfriend, Antwone Grey, has been listed as a person of interest by the police and is urged to report to the nearest police station.

Senior Superintendent of Police Stephanie Lindsay, the head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Corporate Communications Unit, said Grey has not yet been located.

“We have been searching for him. We have carried out several operations in search of him, up to yesterday into today. One of the sad things that’s happening around this case is that we have information that he’s getting the protection of immediate family and community members,” Lindsay said at the reception.

“All the persons involved are from the same community, and I believe that even if it’s someone that we love, it’s important that we all come together to get justice for Alecia,” she said.

Grey is said to frequent Tawes Pen, St John’s Road and Central Village in St Catherine.

The police have now listed Grey as wanted.

“He has not left the island, and chances are, he may be a neighbour to someone who is not aware that he is wanted by the police,” she said.

At the time of the attack, King was awaiting her Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate results. She passed six subjects.

ainsworth.morris@gleanerjm.com