Woman set on fire talks about recovery - FOX Carolina 21

Woman set on fire talks about recovery

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Mary Darnell talks with FOX Carolina about her recovery and upcoming release. (July 13, 2012/FOX Carolina) Mary Darnell talks with FOX Carolina about her recovery and upcoming release. (July 13, 2012/FOX Carolina)

December 3, 2011 is a date that forever changed Mary Darnell's life. Greenville County deputies said Harold Watts admitted to the unthinkable - dousing her with gasoline, setting her on fire and leaving her for dead.

"I remember the pain, and I remember when it was happening," said Darnell. "I was woken up, so I think part of it was that I was in shock as to when it happened, when (Harold) did that."

Darnell said Watts was an acquaintance.  Friends said Watts wanted more out of the relationship, but Darnell rejected those advances.

"I do remember the pain until they gave me a shot to put me out. After that, I don't remember anything until months later when I woke up," she said.

Over seven months later, she's still recovering. She said, "I'm doing more on my own than when I first got there. I get myself ready, have breakfast, therapy."

She's also had a round of surgeries, and has more on the way. The scars are still visible on her face and arms. But the progress she has made in just seven months has been spectacular.

She can walk, and she's mostly independent. She thinks the prayers of others have helped her with her progress so far.

"The doctors had said it was going to take a year and a half to get to this point, and it's seven and a half and I've gotten to this point," she said.

These days, Darnell doesn't like to dwell on the past. Her future is uncertain, and doctors aren't sure if she'll have a 100 percent recovery. She is apprehensive about more surgeries, but knows it has to happen.

"Whatever I have to do to continue to get as close to 100 percent as I was, I plan to do," she said.

Darnell will be able to go home next week. Right now, though, she's only allowed out of her care facility for four hours a day. But that short time is "Heaven" for her, as she prepares for a future she'll face head-on.

"I can't describe how good it felt just to feel the sun on my face and the breeze, and being able to touch the trees and everything I'd only been able to look out my window at," she said.

At last check, Darnell's medical bills ranged anywhere from $1.6 million to $2 million. Insurance and short term disability for her have since expired, and she's currently covered by COBRA while she awaits word on disability benefits.

There will be a fundraiser Saturday from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Fountain Inn Activity Center. There will be a silent auction and speakers at the event.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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