On Dec. 4th and Dec. 18th at Pueblo Cantina, behind Wendy’s on Highway 53, there will be benefits to help a local firefighter, Jake Reppert, and his family while he recovers from burns.
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. and the benefit will run all day. The event will also feature a raffle of donated items from local merchants.
Reppert is still recovering from the burns. He is seeing doctors for check-ups and starting physical therapy.
ORIGINAL STORY -- Last Sunday, November 13, Pickens County firefighter Jake Reppert was badly burned in an off-duty accident and transported to the Grady Hospital Burn Center for treatment of second and third degree burns to over 25 percent of his body.
Now friends and family of the victim are asking the community to help his family while Reppert, a “hard worker and good person,” is out of work recovering from the injury.
According to Pickens County Fire Chief Bob Howard, Reppert was working at home burning off trash and brush when the fire got out of control and his clothing caught on fire.
“The details are unclear now,” Howard said. “We don’t know exactly what happened and he has no memory of it. It happened so fast.”
Jennifer White, a friend of Reppert’s and a paramedic with Pickens County who spoke with the victim’s wife, said Reppert was burning trash in a barrel when an explosion occurred.
“His wife heard the explosion and ran out,” White said. “She said he was just completely on fire. I don’t know what was in there, but there was a gasoline can close by. I don’t know what happened exactly.”
White said Reppert has undergone one skin grafting, but that it is uncertain as to what additional surgeries will be needed in the future.
According to Howard, Reppert suffered facial and upper torso burns.
Reppert has been a full-time firefighter with Pickens County for five years, and also worked as a full-time firefighter with Cherokee County.
“He’s done some 48 [hour shifts],” White said. “You don’t do those because you want to. They’re hard.”
In a message sent from White to friends and family, she asks for financial help for Reppert, both a husband and father.
“Like a lot of people they are paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “This is going to be hard for them with him out of work. Anything people can do will help.”
White has taken matters into her own hands, sending out mass texts asking for help and setting up an account at Community Bank of Pickens County for donations to the family.
“I realize that times are hard, but even a $2 donation is most appreciated,” she said in a message to friends and family. “For example, $2 from 200 people adds up and may be the difference in these folks going without during this difficult time. If you don’t have money, but want to donate time or ideas, a fundraising event in the near future would be a great venture. Please, tell everyone you know that this special, hard-working, very deserving family needs their help.”
Chief Howard addressed the irony of a firefighter being burned while off-duty.
“People need to know that there is a difference,” he said. “When we are on the clock we are trained to do certain things, but off the clock we sometimes let our guard down. It’s human.”