Courtesy Mehki Hollis
Editor’s note: This story contains graphic details regarding injuries sustained in an explosion. At the end of this story is a graphic photo of the injury.
IDAHO FALLS — Mehki Hollis, his girlfriend Taja Floyd and a group of friends with children were hanging out in the Melaleuca Field parking lot Monday night when they say a truck pulled up and threw an explosive at the ground near them.
Hollis, 20, said his immediate reaction upon seeing what he believed to be a stick of dynamite was to protect the people he was with — especially the kids.
“I was just looking out for my little homies,” he said during a phone conversation with EastIdahoNews.com. “At the end of the day, I’m still breathing. I’m just glad my homies are good — that’s all.”
Detectives believe an aerial mortar or similar firework was thrown from the truck, according to Idaho Falls Police Lt. Bob Lasher. The incident occurred around 9:45 p.m.
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Floyd said she was not sure what happened because she was inside her car when everything unfolded. She told EastIdahoNews.com that she saw a truck pulling up. The next thing she heard was the truck peeling out, and that was quickly followed by a loud explosion.
“I freaked out a little bit, but I did end up tying a wire around his leg,” Floyd recalled. “The ambulance came shortly after. … It all happened so quickly.”
A great deal happened in the moments between the arrival of a truck — driven by two males no one there recognized — and the explosion.
As Hollis recalls, he saw the explosive and rushed to stomp out the fuse in hopes of protecting the people he was with. Unfortunately, he was not able to extinguish the fuse, and the device blew up under his foot.
Hollis said he was instantly in unrivaled pain. The heel of his right foot was touching his right calf, his right ankle was “completely obliterated” and his right foot was “totally destroyed.” The back of the foot, he added, was left “dangling.”
“(Floyd) tied the cord on my leg so tight that the cop had to actually cut (the cord) off,” he said.
He has since been informed that his girlfriend’s snap decision played a huge benefit, though there is only a 40% chance doctors will be able to save Hollis’ leg. And, even if the doctors are successful, Hollis was told his right foot will never move the same, and the pain may cause him to eventually request it be amputated.
Though no one recognized the truck or its occupants, Floyd said she later received a text from someone providing the identities of the people in the truck. She turned that information over the police.
Detectives now have two suspects, both of whom are juveniles, Lasher said.
Hollis underwent emergency surgery Monday night, with several additional surgeries since and more still to come. He said that doctors are considering a number of options to save his leg.
If they are successful, Hollis said they will likely have to fuse the ankle — meaning it would never move properly again. Then, he added, they will have to remove skin and muscle, either from his back or his calf, to graft onto his ankle.
While the pain, as he described, is “straight up 10 out of 10,” Hollis is doing his best to stay positive. Floyd said he has somehow remained his same jovial and joking self.
The uphill battle will include a lengthy and expensive stay in the hospital, followed by rehabilitation and physical therapy.
Floyd has launched a GoFundMe — which can be found here — hoping to raise $10,000 to pay for medical costs and other bills. As of noon Friday, it has raised $700.
“I don’t even know what I’m gonna do,” Hollis said about the lengthy recovery in front of him. “I’m actually, kinda, scared and I’ve got a lot of anxiety. But, I’m just gonna keep my head up and walk through it.”
Asked what advice his department would gave anyone who finds themself in a situation similar to the one Hollis was in, Lasher said, “While this case does not involve an explosive being thrown directly at someone, it is a clear example of the destructive power of fireworks. If a firework or something similar is thrown at or near you, put distance between you and what has been thrown. Never go towards it or try to put it out.”
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