'Will affect his whole life': Queensland mother tells of dream trip which ended with toddler's horrific burns

A Queensland family was only weeks into a caravan trip of a lifetime across Australia, when 17-month-old Hunter pulled a boiling kettle on himself and suffered severe burns to his body.

The family left Rockhampton just after Christmas, embarking on a 12-month road trip to Tasmania. But it ended in tragedy at Landsborough, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

The little boy's devastated mother spoke to 7 News Online from hospital today, where Hunter has been receiving treatment for the past four weeks.

Hunter Hall suffered severe burns to 12 per cent of his body when he pulled a boiling kettle on himself last month. Picture: Supplied
Hunter Hall suffered severe burns to 12 per cent of his body when he pulled a boiling kettle on himself last month. Picture: Supplied

"This will affect his whole life," she said, recounting the March 26 accident when her little boy pulled open the caravan's oven door and knocked over a kettle boiling on the hot plate.

"He learned to walk three or four steps three days before the accident. Before the accident he spoke all the basic words... but now all he could do is grunt," a heartbroken Mrs Hall, 40, shared.

Four days ago Hunter returned to eating and drinking normally, without the need of a drip, which his mother said was some progress.

"For the first four weeks, if a nurse walked into a room he would start screaming," she said.

He now lets nurses take observations every six hours without too much fuss, but Hunter's blood pressure remains high and he is still not talking, Mrs Hall said.

Speaking of the accident, Mrs Hall said she immediately ripped off Hunter's t-shirt and yelled for her husband Mick, 43, to help apply cold water to the boy's body.

Aside from burns to his chest, and left foot, she noticed Hunter's right leg was badly scolded so the family rushed him to Caloundra hospital about 22km away.

The 17-month-old's mother Kerrie Hall said he had only started walking days before the horrible accident, which affected both legs. Picture: Supplied
The 17-month-old's mother Kerrie Hall said he had only started walking days before the horrible accident, which affected both legs. Picture: Supplied

He was transferred to Brisbane's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital burns unit about three hours later for surgery, and that's when blisters started to develop on Hunter's head and face.

The little boy has since undergone four skin grafts to his, head, chest, right leg and foot, and the sole of his left foot.

He also has lotion applied eight times a day and regular physio to stretch the body and minimise scarring.

His mother said Hunter will need ongoing treatment until he stops growing, until about the age of about 18 or 19, but the family is hopefully he will eventually be able to walk properly and live a normal life.

"We just have to get him to talk again," she said.

Hunter (centre) with big brothers Haedin, 12; Joel, 6; and Cody, 10. Picture: Supplied
Hunter (centre) with big brothers Haedin, 12; Joel, 6; and Cody, 10. Picture: Supplied

Mrs Hall said in the week following the split-second accident, everyone in the family blamed themselves, saying "I should have been there", and the tragedy has caused the family "ups and downs" but they are remaining positive.

"We are hoping it won't affect him too much. When he starts school he might be bullied - with people looking at him differently because of his leg. We just need to be positive and [teach him] that he's no different.

"We're confident Hunter is hoping to have a normal life, as much as possible."

The family has not yet considered the ongoing financial costs, but already had to purchase a special $300 pram to protect Hunter from the sun, and other protective clothing to cover him from head to toe once he leaves hospital.

To help Hunter's family with financial costs, visit their GoFundMe page to donate.

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