BALTIMORE, Md. – Weeks after the fire at Saint Paul's By The Sea Episcopal Church in Ocean City left her fighting for her life, Dana Truitt is on the road to recovery, and is recollecting what happened that tragic day.
"I thank God for letting me see another day," says Truitt.
She was volunteering at Shepherd's Crook the morning of November 26th, something that Truitt did three days a week for about the past three years. While helping prepare for the food ministry's Thanksgiving dinner, a regular, John Sterner, walked in fully engulfed in flames.
"When I turned around, there stood John to the door fully in flames of fire, and he came on in," says Truitt.
"He just came on in and grabbed my arm and that was it. I didn't know how much pain I was until I came here, I woke up here."
Ocean City Police say Sterner had a history of mental illness, and doused himself in gasoline before setting himself on fire. Sterner and the beloved pastor of the church, Reverend David Dingwall, perished in the fire. Truitt was transported to Johns Hopkins Bayview Burn Center with burns covering 23 percent of her body.
"If this medicine works on my face, I won't need a skin graft or anything. I get to go home the December 23rd, but it's going to be a long haul."
Truitt says she could be facing one to two years of recovery.
"It'll take that long to heal, but I don't care. I thank God that I'm here. I don't care how long it takes me," says Truitt.
As for forgiveness, Truitt could not answer whether or not she forgives Sterner, but in the meantime, she is focusing on getting home to her fiancée, who she planned to wed the same week of the fire.
"As soon as I get home from here, we're going to go ahead and get married."
Truitt says she was wearing her engagement ring on the day of the fire, and she has not seen it since, but she hopes it is somewhere amongst her burnt clothing and other belongings.
Truitt's fiancée, Charles Maddox, and her employer, Spiro Buas, have started the "Dana Truitt Donation Fund" to offset medical expenses and costs associated with family visits to Baltimore. If you would like to donate, you can send a check to C/O Bank of Ocean City, P.O. Box 150, Ocean City, MD 21843, or by dropping off a contribution at any Bank of Ocean City Branch. Donations may also be made online at a special link created at her employer's site.
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