Father saves two of his children from burning RV in southern Utah
VEYO, Utah — A community rallied around a family in southern Utah Tuesday after the bus they were living in exploded sending a father and two of his children to the hospital.
Living on the road and traveling across the country was a dream come true for the Copeland family. A couple of years ago Kyle and Whitney Copeland converted a municipal bus into an RV.
“It was their home and they’ve lost everything,” said Greg Copeland, Kyle’s father.
Copeland says his four grandchildren were on the bus on Monday as they were parked outside of a friend’s home in Veyo, a small town outside of St. George where the family used to live.
Kyle and Whitney were attaching a trailer when their third child got off the bus to tell them the propane heater was making noises.
“At that moment is when the explosion occurred,” Copeland said.
The bus burst into flames. Their older son was asleep and noticed the curtains on fire. He managed to get the emergency window open and jumped out headfirst.
Their mother Whitney ran to get inside the bus for their remaining two children, but Kyle pushed her out of the way and ran into the flames. He grabbed his three-year-old son and pulled his 11-year-old daughter Pepper off the bus with him.
“As a dad, you hope you have the hero in you to go into a fire and save your kids,” Copeland said of his son’s actions.
“I’ll be honest with you. The very fact that he went into the fire to save his kids. I don’t know. That’s amazing to me. That’s heroic to me.”
Kyle collapsed as soon as he got off the bus. His youngest child was burned and his daughter Pepper was on fire. Whitney grabbed her and rolled her on the ground to put out the flames and burned her hands in the process.
Pepper was taken by air to the hospital in St. George and the rest of them were rushed there by ambulance. Within a couple of hours, Copeland said doctors decided to fly Kyle and Pepper to the burn center in Las Vegas. Their 3-year-old flew with his mother to the center.
As of Tuesday, Copeland said Kyle and his two children have been intubated and sedated. Kyle, he said, served in the Air Force for six years and also suffers from PTSD.
The community has rallied around the family to support them. Copeland said he’s heard from people around the country.
“I got to tell you the outpouring of support has been phenomenal,” he said.
“I’ve gotten texts from my son’s primary teachers. From my son’s soccer coach in high school. All reaching out to see how he’s doing. It’s just a bit overwhelming to be honest with you.”
A family friend was watching the two remaining children Tuesday and a friend created a GoFundMe* page to help the family that has lost all of their possessions.
*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.
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