When an 11-year-old boy saw a magic trick on YouTube, he decided to gather some materials and give it a shot himself. It ended up sending him to the hospital with severe burns, police say.
The Cornelia, Ga., boy's uncle told WXIA his nephew loves wrestling, reptiles, race cars and magic. He said the boy had seen a common magic trick while browsing YouTube and wanted to try it himself - until things went horribly wrong.
The trick involves soaking a sheet of paper or a dollar bill in rubbing alcohol and water, then lighting it on fire. The alcohol burns, but the paper is protected and unburnt when the flames are waved away.
Sometimes it is done as a science experiment demonstrating the properties of heat and combustion. The alcohol does not burn at a high enough temperature to evaporate the water and so the flames go out on their own.
Cornelia Police first posted on Facebook that they had responded to a report of a severely burned juvenile who had participated in the "alcohol challenge," where "participants get in the shower, pour rubbing alcohol on themselves and light themselves on fire."
Later, they realized the boy had instead been trying to do the trick with alcohol and paper.
"Speaking with (the mother), she made us aware that there’s another challenge or participation activity that kids are being motivated to try, and that’s dousing paper or material of some sort in rubbing alcohol and lighting it on fire, then flailing it around in an attempt to put the fire out," Maj. Jonathan Roberts of the Cornelia Police told WDUN.
"While he was trying to put the fire out, apparently the flames got too close to the alcohol bottle, and that’s how the alcohol and burns got on him, melting the bathroom shower curtain, as well as causing damage to other areas of the bathroom," he told the station.
Police say when they arrived at the home, the boy was lying on his bed with "severe burns to his chest, face and eyes." He was transferred by helicopter to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, according to the Gainesville Times.
Investigators later learned that the burns were "not as deep as first thought" and the boy was expected to make a full recovery, according to the paper.
The child's uncle told WXIA the child wound up burning about 30 percent of his body and would need skin grafts.
Police encouraged everyone to instead "keep this family in your thoughts and prayers" and to monitor their children's social media habits, rather than attack the parents or child online over what happened.
"We just ask that parents continue to be vigilant, monitoring their children’s Internet activities, and just having conversations with them,” Roberts told WDUN. “There have been some really rude and inappropriate comments made on social media regarding this incident. Where some people think something like this is common sense, it really comes down to communicating with their children.”
The boy's uncle agreed.
“There are videos like this that slip through the cracks of your parental guard and could happen to anybody," he told WXIA.