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Fire Victim’s Friends and Family Rally for Recovery

Steven Boursiquot to undergo second surgery today

Steven Boursiquot survived the February 24 fire at 21 Aberdeen St., but has serious burns and a long recovery ahead of him. Photo courtesy of BU Athletics

Nine days after Steven Boursiquot was pulled unconscious from his blazing Aberdeen Street apartment, his friends are already planning his homecoming. There is a room waiting for him in their new apartment in Dexter Park.

“They’re going to get him an iPod backed up with all the music he likes, they’re going to get him MarioKart, they’re going to go to New York and get him White Castle hamburgers,” says Boursiquot’s mother, Lenora. “They’re very enterprising.”

Boursiquot (CGS’05, CAS’07), 22, who is listed in critical condition at Massachusetts General Hospital, has been surrounded by friends and family since he entered the intensive care burn unit last weekend. The senior track-and-field star survived the February 24 fire that killed Rhiannon McCuish (CAS’08), 21, of Mashpee, Mass., and Stephen “Stefan” Adelipour (SMG’07), 21, of Great Neck, N.Y.

Boursiquot sustained severe burns on 20 percent of his body, and has already undergone one skin-grafting surgery. His second surgery is scheduled to take place today. Boursiquot spent several hours in a hyperbaric chamber to counteract the effects of carbon monoxide inhalation, and has some minor infections and pneumonia. His father, Jean Robert, mother, and sister, Christina, say they are extremely grateful for three things: Boursiquot is alive, he has full brain function, and he has a caring and devoted group of friends from Boston University who have spent every day since the fire with the family.

“Before, I knew all his roommates and his girlfriend, but now I know everybody,” his mother says. “We’re a real family here. It calms everyone down, and we pass the time while keeping an eye on Steven.”

Family and friends do not know, however, when Boursiquot will leave the hospital, and they are well aware that he has a long road of recovery ahead of him. His parents have not decided whether to keep him in Boston or take him home to Dix Hills, in Long Island. And while he is now mostly awake and alert, he is also now in pain from his injuries. “And it’s hard to see him like that,” Lenora says. 

Much of the time, sitting in a waiting area decorated with flowers and candy and get-well balloons, the family talk with Boursiquot’s girlfriend, Rachael Gazda (CGS’04), about lighter subjects: how they will replace Boursiquot’s perfectly coordinated wardrobe, for example, where every outfit had a matching hat and pair of sneakers. 

“He takes an hour to get ready,” his father says. 

“Everything has to match,” adds his sister. “His hair has to be perfect.” 

Often, the family will look through the gifts left for Steven, certain that he would remove all the orange-flavored Sour Patch Kids from the bag and give them to Rachael, or pick out the purple SweetTarts and save them for his mother. They spend some time each day explaining the photo of Steven that hangs near his bed to the ICU nurses: in it, he is sitting on his couch, tipping the dregs of a gallon of milk into his mouth. Just a few days before the fire, Boursiquot and his roommates held a “Gallon Challenge,” in which they competed to drink a gallon of milk in an hour. Boursiquot won, and was so excited about it that he called his sister to tell her. “He finds something to laugh about every day,” says his mother.

Questions remain about what really happened early Saturday morning. The Boston Fire Department has said that an unattended candle caused the blaze; the Boursiquots hope to learn more when Steven has his breathing tube removed and is able to speak.

Many questions remain about what lies ahead. Boursiquot was in the midst of his best track and field season yet, earning top-10 finishes at several meets, in the triple jump, long jump, and 55-meter dash. He was considering applying to post-baccalaureate programs, so that he could go to medical school and become a doctor like his father.

Right now, according to his family, they are taking things one day at a time, giving thanks that he is alive and appreciating the students who come, gifts in hand, to tell them funny stories about their son and say how much they love him.

“When he hears all of this,” his mother says, “that’s got to make him heal.”

Jessica Ullian can be reached at jullian@bu.edu.