BUCKINGHAM, VA (WWBT) - A 3-year-old girl is fighting to survive severe burns after relatives say the toddler's cousin set her on fire.
Little Kayla was airlifted last Saturday from Buckingham County to UVA Medical Center in Charlottesville where she remains sedated in the burn unit. Kayla is being treated for second and third degree burns to her face, arms and chest. She had one surgery Thursday.
Her step-grandfather calls what happened to Kayla a crime, but the Buckingham Sheriff's Office cautions against jumping to conclusions.
She was the flower girl at her parent's April wedding. Everyone's sweetheart. Smart, playful and trusting says Bob Sales.
"I'm sure she trusted the boy that put it on her," said Sales, Kayla's step-grandfather.
Sales says antifreeze and a lighter were used by Kayla's 8-year-old distant cousin to cause burns to 37% of her body. Authorities got a 911 call from a Memorial Day weekend family gathering at the home of Kayla's maternal grandfather on Shelton Store Road.
Buckingham Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Fishburne says at least five adults were there but Kayla and the boy are the only witnesses.
"She and another child were playing. At this point it's still under investigation as to exactly how the incident occurred," said Deputy Fishburne.
Kayla's step-grandfather told NBC12 the boy lured the 3-year-old behind the house and set her on fire. But authorities say it's too early to tell whether a crime happened.
Sales says Kayla's maternal grandfather comforted the toddler before paramedics got to her. She was airlifted to UVA Medical Center.
"He picked her up and the little girl said 'help me papa, help me.'"
Sales says he's frustrated with how the case is being handled.
"They seem to be dragging their feet," said Sales.
"You are dealing with two very young children," said Fishburne.
The youngest turns four in August.
"I would like for everybody to pray for the little girl, she's worth it," said Sales.
Sales says burns to Kayla's lips and nose may heal on their own. No charges have been filed in the case. Deputy Fishburne says investigators plan to question the 8-year-old again soon and the little girl when she's able to talk.