IDAHO FALLS — The family of a woman severely burned at Yellowstone National Park is asking for help and prayers following a horrific accident Monday afternoon.
Laiha Slayton, 20, was moving from Washington to Ohio with her father, Woodrow, and two Shih Tzu dogs, Chevy and Rusty, to begin a new job as a dental assistant. Laiha and Woodrow had never been to Yellowstone and decided to take a detour to the park.
“They were only two hours away and felt stupid not to go take a look,” says Kamilla Slayton, Laiha’s sister.
The Slaytons arrived at the park and stopped near Madison Junction. Laiha went to grab the dogs’ leashes when Kamilla says Rusty and Chevy jumped out of the car and waited at Laiha’s feet.
“There was a leak from (a nearby) geyser into a stream. Rusty burned his foot on it and started freaking out. Dad tried to get Chevy and the next thing you know, Rusty is in the geyser and my dad sees my sister jump in to save him,” Kamilla tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Rusty ran into Maiden’s Grave Spring near the Firehole River, according to a park news release. Rangers say the temperature of the thermal feature is around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Woodrow pulled Laiha from the spring and immediately drove her and the dogs to West Yellowstone, Montana. She was then flown to the Burn Center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center where she is in critical condition. Rusty was taken to a veterinarian but did not survive the accident.
“My family is hurt. My brother passed away in September 2020 and when my mom got the call from my dad that my sister had been flown to the hospital, there are no words to describe that feeling,” Kamilla says. “I can’t imagine what my dad went through pulling her out of that so quick and hearing her screams when it happened.”
Laiha was placed in a medically induced coma and has second degree burns over 70% of her body with third degree burns covering 20%, according to Kamilla. Her palms “are completely gone” and doctors are removing dead skin while using cadaver skin grafts to help new skin grow.
Woodrow was burned on his foot and is being treated for his wounds. Chevy was not injured but “is very upset” that his brother is not around.
Laiha’s mother, Ladonna Levine, flew to Idaho earlier this week to be with her daughter and husband. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family pay for travel, lodging, food and medical expenses. As of Thursday morning, over $26,000 had been donated.
“My parents will have to stay in Idaho for at least a month, so along with the medical bills, they need help with financial needs while they are there,” Kamilla says. “Anything helps – especially prayer.”
Kamilla has seen comments online saying this situation could have been prevented. She agrees but says “no one is perfect and accidents happen.”
“This just happened to be a tragic one,” she explains. “I’ve learned to live every day like tomorrow is your last…My sister is always so selfless and always puts others before herself. She loved taking care of people and that’s how she showed her love. That girl is so strong and has been through so much.”
Our attorneys tell us we need to put this disclaimer in stories involving fundraisers: EastIdahoNews.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries.