Darfield driveway explosion: Burns victim out of intensive care

Kevin Burney in Middlemore Hospital. Photo: Facebook / Marcus Richard Burney
Kevin Burney in Middlemore Hospital. Photo: Facebook / Marcus Richard Burney
Kevin Burney has achieved the milestone of moving out of intensive care as he begins to recover from his devastating April 2 accident.

Son Marcus said his father, 60, was moved on Saturday from Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital’s intensive care unit to its burns unit.

“It is a small, cautious step,” Marcus said.

The family felt conflicted about the move, as it came “with some risk.”

“We don’t want to move too fast and get our hopes up, and then something major happens to dad,” he said.

However, Kevin was doing well at this stage, with two major skin infections under control. He was also managing to get the mucus out of his lungs with good oxygen levels, after the slight collapsing of a lung caused initial concern.

And on Wednesday there was more good news, as surgeons had managed to go several days without having to remove damaged tissue.

“Physically, his skin is looking good,” Marcus said.

Kevin sustained burns to about 70 per cent of his body – from head to thighs – when a metal drum exploded in his Darfield driveway as he was using a grinder to cut circular pieces for garden plant frames.

The drum had been used to store the cleaning chemical isopropyl and it is believed sparks from the power tool ignited fumes.

He was initially transported to Christchurch Hospital and then airlifted to Middlemore, the country’s national burns unit. Medical personnel described his burns as the worse they had seen since treating victims of the Whakaari/White Island volcanic eruption in 2019.

A fit and determined Kevin Burney before the April 2 accident. Photo: Supplied
A fit and determined Kevin Burney before the April 2 accident. Photo: Supplied
Last week, Kevin was able to enjoy a brief respite outdoors for the first time, wife Amanda by his side.

“They took him outside so he could see the sunlight and help with the mental health a bit.”

He could “talk” to his family in whispers, and nodding.

Marcus believed it was hard for his dad to cope with going from working full-time, and being a keen sailor and runner, to not being able to do anything.

“Mental health wise he is still a bit up in the air, his recovery will be both a physical recovery as well as a emotional recovery,” Marcus said.

Amanda has been in Auckland since shortly after the accident and recently the Freemasons Charity organised long-term accommodation for her.

“They’ve found a nice unit where she can stay for the next few months,” Marcus said.

Kevin is about one month into his recovery and faces at least another three months in Auckland before being transferred to Burwood Hospital’s burns unit for continuing care and rehabilitation.

  • A Givealittle page has been set up to assist the family with flights to Auckland and other costs.


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