LATEST: Girl burned over most of body improving, impatient as school starts without her


Closing in on 220 days stuck in a Miami-Dade County burn center, Layne Chesney can’t wait to go home.

In a normal year, the 15-year-old Fort Pierce girl would be starting school Monday at Lincoln Park Academy. But she sustained third-degree burns on much of her body when she poured gasoline onto a bonfire on New Year’s Eve. She’s been hospitalized at Kendall Regional Medical Center ever since.

A medically induced coma, multiple surgeries and frequent skin-graft procedures have followed during a recovery that her mother indicated in a recent Facebook post has months to go.

“She is tired of waking up in a hospital room every day,” Leigh Ann Chesney wrote on the “Pray for Layne Chesney” Facebook page, which she updates daily to keep friends and family updated on Layne’s recovery. “It’s really starting to take its toll on her.

“She desperately just wants to be able to go home for one day, and be back in her own environment. She misses her room and her house. Unfortunately, that wish can not be granted. It’s just not possible.”

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The Facebook posts leave no doubt that Layne has made significant improvement since she was flown by helicopter to the hospital clinging to life.

Layne’s appetite has ruturned — she recently scarfed down a barbecue lunch  of ribs, fries, cole slaw and mac and cheese — and she can take a few steps with some assistance.

But patience isn’t a virtue to most teenagers, and Layne is no exception.

While her teammates on the Jensen Beach Wildcats softball team played last month in the Babe Ruth World Series, Layne kept up from her hospital room.

When her friends begin school next week at Lincoln Park, Layne will likely be engaged in some form of physical therapy. 

“Unfortunately, she feels like she isn’t progressing. She does everything that is asked of her, and she still has no independence. It’s very frustrating for her, and at times, she just would like to quit,” her mother said in a recent post.

Buoying Layne’s spirits have been the support of family and friends, including those on her softball team.

The Wildcats’ players tattooed Layne’s name on their arms and displayed it on their shirts and helmets. The team broke huddles by shouting, “1, 2, 3 ... Layne!”

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“People asked me what it was like playing without her,” said Michael Cusimano, the team’s coach. “I said, ‘We miss her but she is as much a part of this team as anybody.’ ”

In 2017 with Layne playing second base and shortstop while batting cleanup, the Wildcats won the Babe Ruth World Series played in Jensen Beach.

With Layne out of action, the team lost in the championship game on July 27 by a run.

“She’s doing better every day, better than anybody expected,” Cusimano said. “She’s going to get through this because she’s a fighter.”

GoFundMe fundraising account created to help Layne’s family pay for her care has raised more than $65,000 as of Aug. 7.


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