Altavista Councilmember Badly Burned - WSET.com - ABC13

Altavista Councilmember Badly Burned

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Reporter: Dhomonique Ricks l Videographer: Ira Quillen

Altavista, VA -- Shocking news for the town of Altavista. A council member is recovering at U-VA Medical Center after a freak accident over the weekend. Fellow council members tell us Jay Higginbotham was working on his car, when the carburetor backfired and burned him from the waist up.

English Construction Company, where Higginbotham works says the entire family is at UVA Medical Center.  We were able to speak with council members who have been in contact.

"Such a shock because I think that's one of the worst injuries that you can have," said Council Member Bill Ferguson.

"He was bandaged from waist up; face, head, arms," said Council Member Charles Edwards.

Friend and fellow council member, Charles Edwards was at the hospital the day after it happened.

"He was communicating with his foot by drawing the letters on the footboard of the bed because he couldn't speak," said Edwards.

Edwards says Jay Higginbotham was working on his car at his home Saturday afternoon.

"Poured a very small amount of gasoline into the carburetor and it backfired," said Edwards.

Councilman Bill Ferguson says it is odd; six years ago, Higginbotham served a tour in Iraq unharmed.  

"So you think about how he can be over there in such a terrible place at a bad time and comes back home, and then gets injured working on his car," said Ferguson.

Friends say this town council is a big part of his life, and that Higginbotham will still find a way to be present.

"Jay's an engineer and a lawyer, so he'll probably figure out some way that he can still be involved in our council meeting even if it means setting up Skype," said Vice Mayor Ronald Coleman.

And those who know him well, like Coleman, are confident he is going to bounce back quickly.

"Jay is such a resilient type of person. You don't think the worst when you think of Jay,"  said Coleman.

Council members say, Higginbotham should be coming home sometime between Thursday and Saturday. But those who have visited him say he's in good spirits.

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