Survivor of Maryland Church Fire Speaks Out After Suffering Third-Degree Burns

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By Jessica Martinez , CP Reporter
December 18, 2013|1:20 pm

The woman who was severely burned after a man on fire intentionally walked into her church in Ocean City, Md., where she was volunteering during Thanksgiving week, spoke out for the first time about the incident that left over 20 percent of her body scarred from third-degree burns.

  • Dana Truitt
    (Photo: ABC2, WMAR-TV Baltimore Screen grab)
    Burn victim Dana Truitt suffered third-degree burns from arson incident on November 26, 2013.

Dana Truitt says she remembers little from the incident after being loaded into an ambulance and having her clothing cut from her body. However, she recalls the moment it occurred while she was set to prepare Thanksgiving dinner at the same church that had previously helped the arsonist, John Sterner, with food and clothes.

"When I turned around, there stood John at the door fully on flame of fire and came on in. He just came on in and grabbed my arm and that was it," said Truitt, reports ABC Baltimore.

Sterner, who had a long criminal history, set ablaze Truitt and the pastor of St. Paul's by the Sea Episcopal Church, the Rev. David Dingwall, who died at the scene.

Prior to walking into the church after dousing himself with gasoline, Sterner was seen in local surveillance camera footage filling up a red gas can at a gas station. Police are currently investigating his motive.

Truitt now has to live with burns on her face, neck and body while she recovers at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, where she is also bound to a feeding tube.

"If this medicine works on my face, I won't need no skin graft or nothing," said Truitt. "I get to go home the 23rd, but it's going to be a long haul, they said between one to two years. It'll take that long to heal, but I don't care though. I thank God that I'm here. I don't care how long it takes me."

Due to the distance between the hospital and her family's residence, Truitt's recovery has been lonely. However, once she is discharged, she plans on marrying her fiancé who she was going to wed the same week of the incident.

 "I thank God every day for letting me see another day. As soon as I get home from here, we're going to go ahead and get married, as soon as I go home, as soon as I get home," said Truitt.

 

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