Woman widowed on Thanksgiving after husband catches fire while getting care at Tennessee hospital

FILE - An empty hospital bed. (Jeffrey Basinger/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

The family of a Tennessee man is grieving after he caught on fire while receiving care at a Nashville hospital, sustaining injuries that would eventually kill him on Thanksgiving Day.  

Bobby Ray Stark had been suffering from ailments such as bed sores and a foot infection and had been bedridden for the last seven years, according to a FOX 8 report.  

His wife Kathy, with whom he had been married for 35 years, stayed at his bedside throughout his health struggles.  

Bobby Ray was admitted to a local hospital before he was eventually taken to TriStar Centennial Medical Center. During his stay, Bobby Ray’s blood pressure dropped significantly and health care staff brought in a crash cart to revive him, according to a GoFundMe account set up by Joyce Feakes, Bobby Ray’s daughter.  

"Then they started the [defibrillator] paddles, and it just blew up, everything," Kathy told WKRN. "I saw that and I just burst out."  

Flames erupted over Bobby Ray’s body, Kathy said.  

"He got burned in the throat, the face, the head, the chest and his hands. And he got burnt really bad, he was on fire, and I said, ‘he’s on fire, put him out,’" she told WKRN. 

Bobby Ray was immediately transferred to TriStar Skyline Medical Center’s burn unit where he died on Thanksgiving Day. 

"They even made the comment to her, she’s repeated it to me many times of this has never happened before," Feakes told WKRN. "They need to make sure that that doesn’t happen to somebody else, so somebody else doesn’t lose their husband, their best friend, their dad. And even worse, we lost him on Thanksgiving." 

TriStar Centennial Medical Center told FOX TV Stations that health officials are investigating the incident. 

"We extend our deepest sympathies to this family for the loss of their loved one. While we cannot discuss specifics, we are reviewing the care provided to the patient and the functionality of equipment. The death of a loved one is always very difficult, and our hearts go out to this family," a hospital spokesperson said in an emailed statement. 

Kathy was Bobby Ray’s caretaker over the past seven years and relied on her husband’s Social Security for their income, according to the family’s GoFundMe account. 

"Any help would be greatly appreciated while she is forced to make changes that were not even a thought or concern previously," the GoFundMe account read. 

This story was reported out of Los Angeles.