Schererville resident Jeff Myszak has been a police officer for 14 years. He said no amount of training or job experience could prepare him for having his own daughter severely burned in an accident.
On Oct. 25, 13-year-old Amayah Myszak, received second- and third-degree burns to 40 percent of her body while at a birthday party. There was a bonfire and someone added gasoline to the fire and it exploded, he said.
“A friend called me and said, 'Amayah is hurt.' I had a thought driving there — I pulled up probably within five minutes of that call. I could see Amayah through the ambulance window and I knew it was bad,” Jeff Myszak said. “It’s surreal — a very this-can’t-be-happening kind of experience.”
Amayah was flown to Loyola University Medical Center’s burn unit and was put into a coma for eight days. She has second- and third-degree burns on her face, arms, chest, abdomen, legs and back. Amayah is scheduled for her fourth skin graft surgery next week.
“People don’t know the complexities of being burned. It’s been tough for everyone. We are on a roller coaster — we’ve had every emotion you can experience,” he said. “We are trying to be strong for Amayah; she’s come a long way. But she’s distraught and coming to terms with the fact that she was injured to no fault of her own.”
Amayah, who has three siblings, has a long road of healing ahead of her. The family hopes to have her home by Christmas.
Mario Castaneda, assistant principal at Grimmer Middle School in Schererville, said the community has been working together to support the Myszak family in various ways. For example, the school had a table set up in the cafeteria so students could make Amayah cards during lunch. Castaneda also organized a dinner dance for students and their parents to raise money as well.
“My faith in humanity has been strengthened by this experience," Castaneda said. "We are trying to ease the financial burden for the family because Jeff is working intermittently. Local businesses have offered gift cards, Andorra Banquets and Catering (helped with a recent event for Amayah) — no one has said no. We’ve had a lot of help from our PTO, as well. I’ve actually had to ask people to slow down a little bit because everyone is trying to help so much — it’s a good problem to have.”
Schererville Fire Chief Joe Kruzan said he and his department are praying for Amayah and her family.
“The Schererville Police and Fire departments are very close ... the injuries sustained by Amayah Myszak hit us all very hard."
Those interested in donating to Amayah's recovery, can visit www.youcaring.com/amayahmyszak-1001484.