LYNN — Just over six weeks ago, 3-year-old Leland Young and his 2-year-old brother, Landon, were displaced from their Lynn three-decker after a fire erupted in a third-floor apartment.
Their family moved to a new apartment, but their troubles only deepened. The boys were severely burned Wednesday morning by hot water in a bathtub, Lynn fire officials said.
“They were second-degree burns; they were pretty painful,” said Fire Lieutenant Paul Ricchi, who treated the older boy. “They were both conscious, but obviously they were in a lot of pain.”
Leland was listed in stable condition Wednesday afternoon at Shriners Hospitals for Children-Boston, said John Sugden, a hospital spokesman. Landon was listed in critical, but stable, condition.
The state Department of Children and Families is investigating the incident. The father of a family friend who baby-sat for the boys said his son, 21-year-old Charles Collins-Robinson, was watching the children when they were burned. The father, 65-year-old Charles Collins, said he hopes investigators see what happened as an accident.
His son would never intentionally hurt the children, he said.
“He’s in shock; he’s all messed up,” Collins said of his son. “He loved them, and they loved him, but he did something stupid by leaving them in that bathtub. He never took no lessons on taking care of those kids. I didn’t like him baby-
sitting them, but he loved them.”
Collins said he received a call from his son early Wednesday, saying that the boys had been burned in the bathtub when he left the room to use the bathroom at his father’s apartment across the hall. He said his son told him that the older boy turned the water knob to hot.
The children were screaming and trying to get out of the tub, Collins said his son told him.
On Wednesday, as cameras crowded his father’s doorway, Collins-Robinson declined to comment.
“Please just go,” he told reporters. “I can’t handle it.”
After they were discovered burned at about 7:14 a.m., the boys were rushed from their Essex Street home to Lynn English High School. Rescuers wrapped the boys in blue burn sheets and carried them down the stairs, where they were met by ambulances, said Ricchi, the fire official who took care of the older boy.
“He was kind of inconsolable for a little while,” he said. “It’s a really painful injury.”
Ricchi said he and his partner, Firefighter Stephen Harer, gave the boy intravenous fluids and morphine to treat his pain. He said the boy had burns on his chest, abdomen, back, thighs, and groin.
Ricchi said he tried to calm the boy while the ambulance drove to meet a medical helicopter that flew them to Massachusetts General Hospital.
“I told him he was going to get his first helicopter ride at 3 years old,” Ricchi said.
The younger boy was burned on about 50 percent of his body, on his back, said Lynn District Fire Chief Steven Archer.
Second-degree burns are the second-most serious type of burn. They affect both the outer and underlying layer of skin, causing pain, redness, swelling, and blistering, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The boys were later discharged from MGH, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Steve Arnold, who is married to the boys’ paternal grandmother, said he visited the brothers at Shriners.
“It’s horrific,” he said. “They got burned really badly.”
DCF spokeswoman Cayenne Isaksen declined to comment on whether the agency had contact with the family in the past.
A police report filed in January in Lynn District Court over a domestic violence incident involving the boys’ father said child welfare officials had been notified of the case. A charge against the father was later dismissed, said Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett.
Lynn police said Wednesday evening no one was available to discuss whether officers planned to investigate the incident. Kimball Monahan said Blodgett’s office had not launched an investigation.
Collins-Robinson was staying at the apartment where the children lived, his father said. Collins said his son had been baby-sitting for the family for more than two years.
“He takes good care of them; that’s why this was such a shock,” Collins said. “I’m praying for those little boys.”
The father of the boys trusted Collins-Robinson “with his kids immensely,” said a friend of Collins, Amando Colangelo, 63. “I just hope the kids are all right, and I worry about what’s going to happen here.”Correspondent Catalina Gaitan contributed to this report. Claire McNeill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Laura Crimaldi can be reached at email@example.com.