BELMONT, NC (WBTV) - A Belmont teenager is now completely blind in one eye and partially blind in the other after a February incident that took place at a bonfire.
Landon Via, an 18-year-old student at Stuart Cramer High School, told WBTV that he and several of his friends were hanging out around a bonfire on a Friday night in February when one of his friends tossed a can of spray paint into the fire. The can exploded and severely injured Via.
“They yelled “spray paint can in the fire” and then when I walked past there, you heard a boom and then like I just seen a fireball and then it blew up in my face,” recounted Via.
The teen said his friends rushed him to the hospital and called his mother, Nikki Via. The Belmont mother said she did not expect her son’s injuries to be so severe.
“They was wheeling him back in the wheelchair when I got there and I said his name and when they turned him around, I about almost went to my knees,” said Nikki Via.
Her son’s right eye socket was charred, bloodied, and swollen shut. He had suffered serious eye damage in addition to fractures in his face.
“I went from having 20/20 vision to none,” said Landon Via.
Nikki Via explained that her son’s life literally changed in the blink of an eye.
“(He) went to hang out with his friends that night like a lot of people do, on a Friday night at a bonfire, and his life’s forever changed now,” said the mother.
She said her son is completely blind in the right eye now and multiple specialists have told them there’s no changing that. She said Landon’s left eye suffered flash burns, but he can still see out of part of it.
After all that has happened, the teen has a simple message for other kids his age.
“Don’t do dumb stuff,” said Via.
Nikki Via said she wants the public to see her son’s injuries so they know that foolish actions can lead to serious consequences.
“Just think about what you’re doing before you do it because there’s real consequences here, consequences that you’re stuck with that you’re going to have to deal with every single day of your life,” said the mother.
She said seeing her son in such a state has been hard on her as a mother.
“He said he wanted to be a police officer. That’s not in the cards anymore. He was a lifeguard. He can’t do that anymore,” explained the mother.
Landon refuses to let the situation discourage him though. While he can’t drive or watch TV, he is still able to play his guitar and finds enjoyment in doing so.
“I try to just not even think about it. Just keep living life cause I’m only 18. I can’t let this set me back,” said Landon Via.
Via’s mother said they are now worried about paying medical bills at a time when they should be worried about paying for college.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help the family pay for the unexpected costs. The page can be accessed through this link.
Nikki Via said that while her son won’t be able to return to the classroom, he will be able to walk at graduation.