Fort Pierce community holds vigil for teen burned during New Year’s bonfire

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (WSVN) — A community came together, Wednesday, to show support for a teen who was severely burned after a New Year’s Eve bonfire.

Students and faculty offered words of encouragement at a vigil at Lincoln Park Academy in Fort Pierce for 14-year-old Layne Chesney, who suffered burns to 95 percent of her body while celebrating the new year.

“You also have to remember God is good and does love her, and He is the reason she is still alive,” said a woman at the vigil.

Several students stepped forward to talk about the ninth grade softball player and to send reassurance as she prepares for another surgery.

A Facebook page set up for Chesney said she had a good night despite fighting an infection from severe burns.

The post said she was still very sick but remains “in the game.” The post urged readers to keep praying.

According to police, the Treasure Coast teen was at a bonfire at a friend’s house on New Year’s Eve. Layne noticed the fire was dwindling and picked up a gas can to pour gasoline on the fire.

“The only part of Layne’s body that was not burned was the soles of her feet,” said the teen’s grandmother, Carol Forbes.

Chesney has already had two surgeries, including one that lasted seven and a half hours, but the family has remained focused on the positives and realizes the ordeal is only temporary

“It’s hard to see her like she is. I just have to remember that this is only temporary,” said the girl’s mother, Leigh Chesney. “It’s not going to be forever. I just have to look at it that way.”

Meanwhile, the outpouring of support has helped the family cope.

In a statement, the school said, “The generous and continuous flow of support for Layne and her family from colleagues and students in the district as well as from the community at large is tremendous. Through this process, she can count on her extended SLPS family to rally in her corner and respectfully coordinate efforts that support her.”

“There is no going back now. We just have to look toward the future, and we have to remain hopeful for her progress,” said Leigh.

Chesney’s mother said the next 24 to 48 hours are crucial after the teen’s latest surgery because of the life-threatening risk of infection.

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