MORIAH — He lost his left hand and sight in one eye, but Ryan Gunning’s family is grateful that the 15-year-old survived a campfire explosion.
The incident two weeks ago at a remote camp in Moriah is still under investigation.
Ryan’s mother and stepfather, Tara and Sean Mascarenas, traveled to Boston this week to begin a sequence of delicate surgeries to try to repair retinal damage in their son’s right eye.
Damaged beyond repair, the teen’s left hand was amputated. The family is looking at prosthetic options.
Sean described Ryan as an avid young outdoorsman, a boy who grew up hunting, fishing and playing football.
The accident happened as Ryan and a few friends were building a campfire, the teen’s father said.
A Ticonderoga police officer, Sean did not want to impede any ongoing investigation with further details or names of other young people involved.
But the actions Ryan and his companions took after the accident likely saved the teen’s life, Sean said.
Something exploded when the fire started. And the blast tore away most of the teen’s left hand.
“After the explosion, Ryan realized the severity of his wounds, and he directed one of his friends to grab something for a tourniquet; I believe a belt was used,” Sean said.
“They applied it to the proper spot. He knew that if he put the tourniquet lower, below the elbow, he might be able to keep the rest of the arm.”
Damage from the fire also burned the teen’s legs and his face, tearing the retina in one eye.
“He felt like he was burning, so he went into the pond where they were camping and directed a friend to get some drinking water for him. He knew he had to keep hydrated.