From KAPS member, David Blankenbeker:
It is with sadness that I pass along some very bad news. My good friend, Mike Hersker is in critical care at the University of Louisville hospital with burns over 90 percent of his body stemming from a fire at his home in Floyd Knobs that occurred around 2 a.m. Sunday morning. Mike and I have been friends for over 20 years. Mike worked for me briefly when I needed extra help and currently works for Nathan Grimes doing CAD.
Mike is an army veteran. He joined the Airborne division right out of high school and served our Country honorably. He then worked in sales in the construction industry at some of the large lumber houses in the area. That is how I met Mike. During that time, he learned computer drafting, doing house plans. He drafted plans for new homes with Bob Linnert at Better by Design. After his brother had some serious family troubles, Mike took in all 3 of his brother’s kids out of the goodness of his heart. That was about 12 years ago. As a result of the circumstances surrounding the children’s early lives, Mike and his wife Dorothy have had some serious issues with the kids health and behavior. Dorothy was also injured in the fire, but much less seriously and was released from the burn center yesterday.
The circumstances of the fire make the matter even worse. Saturday afternoon, Mike and Dorothy had to discipline their middle child, who was 14, but turned 15 yesterday. Early Sunday morning, he poured gasoline down the hall way of the home and lit it on fire. He then ran to a nearby field and watched the house burn. Mike, Dorothy and their other 2 children where initially able to escape, but Mike, not finding the middle child, ran back into the house to rescue him, not knowing he wasn’t there to be rescued. A selfless, heroic act. That is when Mike suffered the majority of the burns. The other two children were able to escape unscathed physically. Dorothy and the 2 children are now fighting the mental battle of having their life turned upside down.
Mike is currently being kept sedated. I visited him yesterday and spoke with Dorothy. He is wrapped up like a mummy with only part of his face exposed. Today, he faces another challenge, his first of many surgeries. They are going to do 3 procedures today. First they will scrape all the dead skin and flesh from his body. Second they will do a tracheotomy so that his breathing will be easier and safer from infection (he is currently on a respirator, but trying to breath on his own). Finally, the plastic surgeons will work on the palms of his hands, which, along with the soles of his feet have the worst burns. He is likely to be in the hospital for months and then if everything goes right, on to rehab for many more months of therapy.
The family has lost their home and all their belongings. Dorothy and the 2 children are living with her sister in Henryville. The boy who set the fire has been in police custody and in a psychiatric hospital. He is expected to be charged as an adult and spend many years in prison. When I spoke to Dorothy yesterday, I said just tell me what I can do for you, and she replied, can you check on our son with Floyd County? Can you imagine after all that, her thoughts are with the child who set the fire? She has so much to worry about and take care of and to deal with, it’s incredibly tragic.
Right now, the family needs so much. There is a go fund me account on Facebook and for those of you who I’ve spoken with or who have seen that and made a contribution, thank you. We have raised over $10,000 in the last 4 days. For those who didn’t know anything about this until now, and who are able to make a donation, you can do so on Facebook or you can bring a check to tonight’s meeting or mail one to my office and I’ll give them to Dorothy. Just make them out to Dorothy Hersker. Of course, no amount of money will be enough. Mike was the primary wage earner and now that income is gone. Dorothy has to take time off to recover herself and deal with all that goes with this situation, so there will be no money coming in from her job either. We are also working with the V.A., the home builders association and other agencies for support for all things needed. I’m going to try and put a group of his friends together next week to do a fundraiser as well. If anyone has connections with a local charity or other organization such as Lions, Rotary, Chamber, Optimists, etc. please spread the word that Mike and his family need their help.