Teen severely burned during chemistry lab experiment returns to school for pep rally

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Malachi McFadden, 15, was badly burned during an experiment that went wrong in his high school chemistry class. Photo: Channel 2 Action News

By Asia Simone Burns

A 15-year-old who was hospitalized after a chemistry lab experiment left him with third-degree burns all over his body visited his school Thursday for a pep rally in his honor.

Malachi McFadden, 15, was severely burned Aug. 6 during a fire in his chemistry class at Redan High School in Stone Mountain, AJC.com previously reported. The teen spent weeks in the intensive care unit, Channel 2 Action News reported.

The sophomore was invited to a pep rally Thursday in Redan’s gym and had the opportunity to address teachers and classmates he hasn’t seen since the traumatic incident.

“Everybody was clapping when I walked in,” McFadden told Channel 2. 

The fire happened on the second day of classes in DeKalb County. The teen’s teacher reportedly conducted an experiment by lighting a dollar bill on fire. 

“It’s a really bad situation,” attorney Chris Stewart previously told Channel 2.

McFadden’s family hired Stewart to represent them after they could not get information about the incident from the school, the news station reported. 

“The fire went out of control as expected because there was ethanol in the bowl,” Stewart said. “And instead of putting water on it to put it out, allegedly the teacher grabbed a jar of ethanol and threw it into the bowl.”

McFadden was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital.

“Third-degree burns to his face, his head, his arms, full body,” Stewart said. “Over 10% third-degree burns. It’s horrific.”

DeKalb County Schools told the news station the situation is under investigation. The district also said a school nurse went to the hospital with McFadden and school counselors provided support to students who witnessed the incident.

It is unclear if the teacher involved was disciplined.

“The incident in question is still an ongoing, active investigation,” DeKalb schools told AJC.com in a statement Thursday. “Because this is a legal and personnel matter, we are not at liberty to discuss or provide further details.”

Read the original story on AJC.com.