Bentley Mehringer suffered second- and third-degree burns all over the front side of his body after the back end of the boat exploded during a family boat trip on Lake Texoma, Texas, on April 24.
Helping get his younger cousins out of the cabin and off the boat to safety before escaping himself, Bentley ended up taking the brunt of the explosion. Thankfully, the family was able to get all the kids to shore and get a medical evacuation to Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin.
“Bentley is a true hero in my eyes for being so brave and selfless at such a young age,” his mom, Breanna Sullivan, told The Duncan Banner. “He was so tough, I don’t think he even shed a tear until we were being separated for his helicopter ride.”
What started as an extended family outing on the lake with two boats quickly turned into a nightmare. “I smelled fire, I mean gas, and then I went up to check, and then there was a big explosion,” he told KSWO in an interview from the hospital.
For his mom, Breanna, who was in the other boat, it was a horrific experience. “No one knew what happened so it was immediate panic and screaming in all directions around us,” she shared. “Bentley and … two other younger girls were down in the bottom of the boat where the bunks are.”
The force of the explosion threw two people and a dog into the air and into the water, while Bentley and his cousins were still in the flaming boat. Bentley heard his uncle shouting to get out and felt the flames burning his body. “He said he sent the other two girls up before him because he didn’t want anyone else hurt,” Breanna explained. “His uncle threw the girls out of the boat into the water before getting himself out.”
His younger cousins were “untouched for the most part,” the mom said, but Bentley was a different story. “Bentley was terrified and you could already see skin hanging from limbs where he was burned because the blisters busted when he hit the lake water,” she said. “The back side of his body and everywhere he had clothes [was] untouched.”
I left for a few hours to let Bentleys dad spend some time with him while I spent some time with Loretta and got…
While Breanna was relieved that her boy had survived the ordeal, she endured the worry of him being whisked away on the helicopter. “I have been through a lot in my lifetime but there is nothing that compares to the thought of losing your child,” the mom shared.
The situation was compounded by the fact that no visitors from friends or family were allowed due to the current pandemic restrictions.
Despite everything, the boy showed remarkable resiliency and is now back at home recovering with his family. He’s also had the huge benefit of community support behind him. His stepdad, Blake Thompson, shaved his head in solidarity with Bentley, and others followed suit. Family member Jera Sullivan created a fundraiser on Facebook to help cover the hospital and therapy expenses and raised nearly $10,000.
Bentley even received a tribute from the local fire department, with trucks pulling up in front of his house and blowing their horns in support. “They had us all in tears!” Breanna wrote on her Facebook page. A fitting tribute for a very young superhero.
Video courtesy of Breanna Morgan Sullivan