2006-05-12 21:16:32 UTC
It was reported from Kennewick, Washington, that Phillip Hickle, who
suffered severe burns 10 years ago when he inadvertently stepped into a
smoldering pile of grape waste while hunting, died, Saturday May 6,
2006, at the age of 25.
Hickle died Saturday at his home. He appeared to have died of natural
causes but more tests will be done, said Alberta "Bert" Redwing, Benton
County's deputy coroner.
Hickle was 16 when he suffered burns over 55 percent of his body. His
legs were amputated and he lost partial use of one hand. He spent nine
months recuperating in Seattle hospitals.
The waste he stepped into, grape skins, pulp, seeds and vine, was
dumped in large pits and covered with soil. As it decomposed,
spontaneous combustion would ignite the material. It smoldered at
temperatures as high as 507 degrees.
The Hickle family sued the farmer who owned the land and the two fruit
producers and eventually settled out of court with all three parties.
Hickle never really recovered from the accident, his mother, Beierle
Hickle, said from Lewiston, Idaho.
"We still had our son, brother and grandson, but he was a different
person. Everything was so hard for him," she said. "The doctors said it
was amazing that he even lived through the accident."
Hickle missed most of his sophomore year in high school, though he did
eventually finish. On May 1, 2000, Hickle used crutches to cross the
stage and accept his diploma. His 144 classmates gave him a standing