Edmonton

Charge laid after Edmonton man with disabilities set on fire by fireworks

Edmonton police have charged a man accused of lighting fireworks that set fire to a 62-year-old man with developmental disabilities.

Wayne Campbell’s leg was badly burned and his walker was incinerated

Wayne Campbell's calf was badly burned when he was struck by fireworks on Monday.

Police have charged a man accused of lighting fireworks that set fire to a 62-year-old Edmonton man with developmental disabilities.

Wayne Campbell's walker was also incinerated in the blaze at his group home in Mill Woods.

A 23-year-old man has been charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

On Monday, Campbell stepped out on the porch for a smoke before bed, said his brother, Bryon Newman.

Campbell was struck by fireworks set off by a group of people, Newman said.
All that's left of Wayne Campbell's walker after it caught fire Monday night. (Bryon Newman)

Because his disability includes a high tolerance for pain, Campbell wasn't aware that his leg was burning and his walker was on fire, his brother said. Neighbours stepped in to help.

"Good thing those Good Samaritans were there, because he didn't even realize what was going on," Newman told CBC News on Thursday. "And if they hadn't pulled him off, he probably would have just burned to death."

The neighbours patted out the flames.

"They threw the walker onto the driveway, while the walker went up like a tire fire," said Newman, who thanked the neighbours for helping his brother.

If they hadn't pulled him off he probably would have just burned to death.- Bryon Newman

In a statement, EPS said officers were called to the area of 20th Avenue and 49A Street to assist Fire Rescue Services just before 10 p.m. on Monday.

Campbell was treated by paramedics and transported to hospital with serious injuries, police said in a statement.

"A short time later, the male suspect, who was co-operative with officers, returned to the scene and was taken into custody without incident," the statement said. "At this time, police do not believe the accused intended to harm the resident."

But Campbell's family questions that.

"I don't know if this was targeted," said Newman.

He said his brother has spent the week in and out of the burn unit. He will require skin grafting because the burns on his calf are so deep and he is at high risk of infection.

"And should it become infected, there's a really good chance that it will have to be amputated," said Newman.

He hopes his brother, who "lives for bowling" with the Happy Rollers at the Bonnie Doon mall, and loves his home of 15 years, will eventually be able to get back to his routine.

CBC contacted the province after Newman expressed concern that his brother, who is a recipient of AISH funding, might not qualify for another walker from the province because his had recently been replaced.

"I was very concerned to hear of this incident," wrote Irfan Sabir, minister of community and social services. "We have looked into this and will absolutely ensure that Mr. Campbell has a new walker at no cost to him or his family."

andrea.huncar@cbc.ca
@andreahuncar