NAPLES, Fla - A Naples business talks only to WINK News about how they are rallying behind a man severely burned in a boat fire earlier this summer.
Alex Sempf and his 11-year-old son Kristoff both suffered second degree burns. Six weeks later, Alex is recovering at his Naples home using homemade equipment for his physical therapy, while doctors are calling him a walking miracle.
"The healing has progressed so well that some people don't even reach this stage until six months to a year after a burn," says Sempf.
June 29, 2012 Sempf and his son were getting ready to go out on their boat when a container of gasoline tipped over. "As soon as I turned it on I saw a poof inside the vacuum and I realized the vacuum cleaner itself had some fumes in it and it was on fire," says Sempf. "My son was in the back of the boat, on the other side of me. The fire started between us. There was a quick flash and the floor was on fire. So, I screamed at him to get out."
Kristoff had second degree burns on 20 percent of his body while Alex had second degree burns on 60 percent of his body. He spent three weeks at the Tampa Bay Burn Unit, before heading home to finish his recovery.
His story hit his co-workers at Park Family & Cosmetic Dentistry hard. "He's a single dad, 60 percent of his body was burned," says Jane Levine, who has been instrumental in helping to get a fund set up to help Alex and his two kids.
"We feel we have a responsibility to the community to help when we can and it's a great opportunity for people to rally for his children and feel good about doing something for others," says Levine. "It's not just one of us, there are many people rallying for Alex and his children."
While WINK News was at Sempf's home for the interview, Jay's Fabrics dropped of a custom insert for his sofa. "It's just awesome. I'm just watching how everyone is reaching out in this community to help me and I didn't realize I had such wonderful friends and such wonderful support," says Sempf.
Since the accident Sempf has not been able to do any physical work, including one of his passions of building custom cabinets. "I've lost about 60 percent of my muscle bulk and I can't do any long term physical work," says Sempf.
A fund has been set up at Shamrock Bank on 5th Avenue in Naples. Park Family & Cosmetic Dentistry is also collecting school supplies for Alex's two children at 690 Goodlette Frank. They're asking people to donate gift certificates to Walmart, Publix and Home Depot for Alex. They are also collecting canned foods that they will deliver to his home.