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Doctor says fire-breathing stilt-walker should heal in 2 weeks

Lyric Operstilt walker Wesley Daniel was released from LoyolUniversity Medical Center Thursday February 7 2013.

Lyric Opera stilt walker, Wesley Daniel was released from Loyola University Medical Center, Thursday, February 7, 2013.

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Updated: March 10, 2013 6:22AM



Wesley Daniel’s voice remains a “whispery croak,” and he’s unlikely to be scheduling head shots just yet — but doctors said Thursday the actor burned during a fire-breathing stunt at the Lyric Opera earlier this week can expect no scars.

His parents’ mental scars, however, may remain.

“Some of the video is posted online,” the actor’s father, Clifton Daniel, told reporters, just hours before Wesley Daniel was released Thursday from Loyola University Medical Center. “I can’t bring myself to watch it — again — just yet.”

Clifton Daniel — the grandson of President Harry S. Truman — was about 10 rows back at the Lyric during a Monday afternoon dress rehearsal of “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg,” when a fire-breathing stunt went horribly wrong, leaving Wesley Daniel’s head engulfed in flames. The actor, who was on stilts and in costume at the time, suffered second-degree burns to his face and neck.

Clifton Daniel said his son, whose face is covered in ointment and wrapped in bandages, hasn’t been able to say just how the accident happened.

On Thursday evening, Wesley Daniel was relaxing on the couch at his family home watching the Food Network.

“Some of the fluid got loose and caught his neck on fire . . . ,” Clifton Daniel said. “How that happened, why that happened — he hasn’t yet said.”

The father also said his son has yet to speak to investigators about the incident. But he had nothing but praise Thursday for the way Lyric Opera staff rushed to his son’s aid.

“They were bringing cold compresses and towels to make sure the burning stopped. They were checking his airway,” Clifton Daniel said. “They’ve been great.”

A Lyric spokeswoman said there were no updates on the investigation.

One of Daniel’s doctors, Arthur Sanford, likened his patient’s injuries to those he might receive from a “deep sunburn.” With daily dressing changes and antibiotic cream, Daniel’s burns should heal within two weeks, Sanford said.

“Six months from now, this will probably be a bad memory,” Sanford said.

Nods, hand gestures and occasional words are how the 24-year-old actor has been communicating. Even so, he has been able to tell family he’s unlikely to take up fire breathing again any time soon.

“I don’t think I’m going to have to urge him to skip that,” his father said. “He doesn’t seem really keen on doing it again.”

And what would the Daniels’ famous relative make of all this?

“Grandpa loved the theater, but I don’t know that he ever imagined having a great-grandson who would spit fire,” Clifton Daniel said. “My grandfather was accused of doing that himself, but not in quite the same way.”

Contributing: Mitch Dudek



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