top of page
John's Story

My name is John James and I am a burn survivor.


I farmed near Reynolds, IN and to supplement my farm income I drove a gasoline transport for Amoco Oil Company of Brookston, IN. On May 15, 1975 as I was nearing Stockland, IL, with a full load of gasoline, my right side wheels dropped off a very deep shoulder and this caused my load to splash and threw the truck out of control. It rolled over three-quarters of a turn, pinning me in the cab. The tank on the transport ruptured sending 7500 gallons of gasoline through the cab of the semi and soaking me in it for an indefinite amount of time. A gentleman and his wife were returning to their home in the area and happened to come upon the accident scene. The couple contacted the fire and rescue squad of Milford, IL and the Stockland fire department. Many precautions had to he taken because of the flammability of the spilled load.

I was a victim of chemical burns and not fire burns as my body had lain in the gasoline for a time. The burns are similar, other than in a fire the nerve endings are burnt away and with a chemical burn they are not.

After a lengthy rescue, the ambulance took me to the Iroquois County Hospital in Watseka, IL. There they stabilized my condition and started the first treatment of the burns and other injuries that I had received. Later that morning I was transported by helicopter to Foster McGaw Hospital, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL. Upon arriving at Foster McGaw my care was supervised by Drs. Raymond Warpeha and Juan Angellots in the critical care burn unit. Eighty percent of my body was burned with twenty-eight percent being second and third degree. There were also fractured ribs and my left hand had three deeply lacerated fingers. My back, neck and left shoulder were also severely strained from the accident.

The doctors started treating the burns first then in a few days did surgery on the injured hand. The middle finger had to be fused at the joints due to the severity of the damage to the tendons. But they were able to repair the tendons in the ring finger well enough that I have a usable hand.

I feel that the medical care I received at Loyola Medical Center was best care to be had. I was dismissed from the hospital after three weeks but had to return on a set schedule for Occupational and Physical therapy plus visits to the Pain Clinic for a period of four years. I also did exercises at home to strengthen my shoulder, neck and back.

The lasting results of the accident were loss of hand movement, heart attacks, back, neck and shoulder damage, teeth were shattered, and arthritis.

In 1986 the doctor released me to work if I could find an inside job with no stress and no heavy lifting. On my own I had enrolled at Ivy Tech. for electrical training and a computer class. I was lucky enough to pass my tests for a position with the United States Postal Service. They have retrained me by sending me to postal schools for electric, industrial electric, and various postal sorting machines. The Postal Service has also provided me with training in the heating and air-conditioning field.

In March 1997 I was promoted to Supervisor of Maintenance Operations at the Lafayette, IN area processing and delivery facility. I enjoy my work very much (even though it isn't completely stress-free).

bottom of page