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Fund-raiser to be held for burn victim's family

November 20, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

As the Smith family continues to mourn the death of 17-year-old Dustin Smith, friends of the family plan to hold a benefit auction Saturday afternoon, with proceeds to help offset medical bills the family incurred after a campfire accident.

The Williamsport High School student died on Nov. 7, nearly a month after he was severely burned.

Amy Frey, a close friend of the Smith family, said the benefit auction will be held Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Route 65 Auction, south of Hagerstown at 7441 Sharpsburg Pike.

Frey said a wide range of items will be up for bid, including a gift certificate for a dinner with radio disc jockey "The Greaseman," baked goods, glassware, beauty items and a couch/sofa combo. She said donations were still being accepted.

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"I just knew beyond everything, they were going to need some help sometime," Frey said. "It seemed like the right thing to do."

Frey, who organized the event, said one of the expected highlights of the event will be an appearance by Mike Vaters and his monster truck, "Black Stallion." Vaters graduated from Williamsport High School in 1983 with Dustin's mother, Trudy Smith.

"I just asked him if he'd donate some hats and shirts," Frey said. "He called me back and asked if he could bring the truck as an attention-getter and for the kids."

All proceeds from the event will go to the Dustin Smith fund at M&T Bank, and will be used to help the family pay Dustin's medical bills, Frey said.

George Stotler, Dustin's grandfather, said the bill amount is "tremendous," but declined to be specific.

Dustin suffered third-degree burns in the backyard of his grandparents' Spielman Road home while attempting to light a campfire using gasoline on Oct. 11. Deputy State Fire Marshal Ed Ernst has said he was burned over at least 80 percent of his body.

Stotler said his grandson was lighting the fire because friends were coming to the residence to celebrate homecoming.

Smith was flown to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore and later taken to Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati for additional treatment.

Stotler said Dustin was surrounded by family almost constantly.

"His sister Holly didn't leave his room one night when he was ill," Stotler said.

Dustin died on Nov. 7, less than one week after his 17th birthday.

Stotler said Dustin was like many teenagers, enjoying activities such as playing guitar, skateboarding and fishing. Stotler said Dustin was always ready to help someone.

"He was an unbelievable grandson," Stotler said. "There was nothing you asked him to do that he wouldn't do."

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