Independence boy who ‘loves to love’ set on fire by another child, mom says

A 7-year-old Independence boy has been hospitalized with severe burns to his face and arms after another child doused him with nail polish remover and set him on fire with a candle, his mother said.

Julien Sandlin may need skin grafts, said his mother, Ashley Lyons.

The incident happened Monday when Julien was playing outside the family’s apartment at Hawthorne Place, near U.S. 24 and Missouri 291.

Lyons was not home at the time but Julien was with an older brother and another adult.

It is not clear why the other boy threw the flammable liquid on Julien.

“This child basically dumped nail polish remover all over my son,” Lyons said. “My son kept saying ‘Stop. What are you doing?’ Julien kept telling him to leave him alone and that’s when he decided to burn him.“

Lyons said the other boy’s mother was present when the incident happened but did not help her son. Julien said there was a bucket of water nearby.

A neighbor ran out with a wet towel and rolled Julien on the ground. An ambulance and police arrived. Lyons was not able to see her son until he was out of surgery, but she has been with him all week at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

“It’s a very painful process for him,” Lyons said of her son. “There is a lot of anxiety. There is a lot of anger. There is a lot of confusion. He’s trying to maintain the best that he can, for a 7-year-old.”

Julien’s grandmother, Vicki Test, said the family has to be strong to give Julien confidence that everything is going to be OK.

“We had to reassure him that he was not ugly,” Test said. “He’s a beautiful baby inside and out. I love my grandson so much, no matter what he looks like.”

Lyons said Julien is a resilient boy.

“He’s a very loving child, he loves to love more than receive love, that’s for sure,” she said. “He has a great personality. He’s a class clown. Anything he can do to keep people happy or smiling. He’s a light when he walks in the door.”

Lyons said she was not contacted by Independence police until Thursday but they told her they were investigating. A police spokesman did not return requests for information.

A GoFundMe page by Friday afternoon had raised nearly $3,000 of a $10,000 goal to pay for medical expenses.