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California man suffers severe burns rescuing family dog

Enters scalding geothermal pool in Alvord Desert

Man suffers severe burns while...

BEND, Ore. - A weekend trip to southeastern Oregon turned into a rescue for the Torchio family after one of their family dogs jumped into an exposed geothermal hot spring.

Christian Torchio and his brother Andrew, Philip and Brent and his friend Garth, along with two family dogs, Remnar and George, were exploring the Alvord Desert last Saturday when Remnar ran ahead of the group.

"She (the dog) ran ahead to do some exploration, as she usually does, and unfortunately that is when (she) fell or jumped in -- we really don't know," Torchio recalled Wednesday.

The dog in the boiling hot water cried for help

"It was really hard to hear, it was a terrible experience that will probably take a long time to clear my mind," Torchio said. 

Torchio's brother, Brent, jumped into the three-foot-deep geothermal pool in a bid to save the dog. 

"I think he did what any of us would have done, had we been in the same position he was in, (and that) was to save the dog, because she's a family member," Torchio said.

Torchio and his other brother pulled Brent out of the water, knowing the longer he was in there, the worse his chances of survival. 

Brent's skin was starting to peel in the 200 yards from the hot springs to the car. It took the group two hours to get to a hospital in Lakeview for treatment. Brent then was taken to St. Charles Bend and later to the Oregon Burn Center at Legacy Emanuel Health Center in Portland.

"It was tough. It seemed like it took forever," Torchio said. 

Brent suffered second- and third-degree burns over 20 percent of his body. 

There were no warning signs near the hot spring. 

"It wasn't a commercialized hot spring; it was just out in a valley, desert setting, steam coming out of the ground," Torchio said.

Torchio said he hopes families exploring the outdoors will be alert when it comes to their surroundings. 

"We want to share this story to help other people.. Hopefully we can prevent this in the future," he said. 

Remnar was treated by a vet in Lakeview and then taken to a Bend animal hospital, where she died on Sunday. 

Brent is recovering in Portland. His family has set up a GoFund me page to help with medical expenses. 


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