A 16-year-old Springfield girl who doused herself with turpentine and set herself on fire in a bathroom of her home last month died yesterday in the burn-care unit at Washington Hospital Center.
Hospital officials said the girl, Christine Early, of 7920 Foote Lane, died of complications arising from burns that covered 85 percent of her body.
"The outlook was grim from the beginning," a hospital official said, adding that the girl suffered from extensive infection almost from the moment she was admitted to the specially equipped unit 30 days ago.
The Nov. 14 incident stunned friends of the popular Annandale High School sophomore who knew her as a normally "happy-go-lucky" person. Just before the incident, however, she had grown despondent over a failing grade in geometry and the death of her family's 12-year-old pet dog, friends said.
Her lengthy hospitalization was described as "a roller coaster" by friends and neighbors who said she alternately rallied and failed as the hospital's burn specialists worked intensively to try to save her. They said she seemed to be lucid most of the time but appeared to become very "sleepy" on Thursday as her lungs and kidneys began to fail.
Friday was Christine's 16th birthday, and her parents, Jackie and Jerald Early, and her three sisters gathered at her bedside for a small party. Christine was apparently unaware they were there, family friends said.
Neighbors in the Ravensworth Farms subdivision rallied in support of the family following the incident. Several opened a bank account and organized a community fund to assist the family after Mrs. Early quit her job last month to spend all her time with Christine. Others formed prayer groups, and students at Annandale High School donated 35 pints of blood for the girl.