LOS ANGELES—The family of Wicked Pictures publicist Heth Mares was badly injured in a car fire Sunday morning when they were driving to San Diego for vacation.
Mares’ husband, father-in-law and two children all suffered severe burns from the fire that destroyed the Dodge Caravan in which they were traveling on the Interstate 5 freeway in Santa Ana, Calif.
Her husband Stephen Mares remains in Santa Ana’s Western Medical Center Burn Unit, where he will undergo another skin graft surgery on Friday. Her five-year-old son Seth and two-year-old daughter Sophia were released from the hospital Monday, while her father-in-law, Stephen Sr., left the hospital Wednesday.
The Mares family lost most of their valuables in the blaze.
“We were on our way to San Diego for vacation on Sunday and a tire blew, then we were trying get over to the far right lane, and before we could even get to the side of the road the car was on fire,” Mares said Thursday.
“I jumped out of my [passenger’s] side because the fire hadn’t gotten up to my front seat yet. I went to go back to the sliding door to unbuckle the kids. My father-in-law jumped out to try to get to the kids and he went right into flames. The flames had already engulfed that side of car, so he caught on fire.”
Mares said that the struggle to get the kids out of the van continued as her husband tried to free them.
“My husband couldn’t get out of his door, so he went through the middle to try to get the kids, but the flames were flashing into my son’s face, so my husband closed the door because he didn’t want them to get burned any more,” she continued.
The fire melted the middle door shut, trapping her husband and kids.
“People were stopped on the side of the road to try to help but they couldn’t break the windows. My husband was trying to break the window from inside, I could see him using his body weight,” Mares said. “Then I remembered the back hatch was unlocked and I ran to the back and opened it and they crawled out that way, that’s how they got out. And then 30 to 40 seconds later the car completely went up in flames. The fuel tank blew.”
Wicked’s longtime publicist said she was grateful to the people who stopped their cars to help.
“I’m very grateful for that. I don’t know their names ... The fire department was wonderful and Wicked has been very generous, the whole Wicked family over there. They have called me and sent gifts and sent money and I appreciate them very much for the well wishes and love.”
Mares’ kids suffered second-degree burns on their faces, hands and arms; her daughter had third-degree burns on her legs.
“They’ll be fine, they just need physical therapy so they can start using their hands again and their fingers,” she said.
“My husband needs two to three skin graft surgeries. He had the first surgery a couple days ago and it went well. ... Hopefully he’ll be released on Monday or Tuesday.”
She said her father-in-law endured second- and third-degree burns on his face, torso, arms and legs. “And me, I had some tiny little spots of burns on my arms, but I was really the lucky one. But I feel even more lucky because my family, they survived.”
Mares said her husband Stephen has no medical insurance.
“And he needed the most surgeries so we are desperate for any help,” she said.
Wicked Girl Jessica Drake said Thursday, "Heth is not only our publicist, but a friend as well. I can't imagine the pain that she and her whole family are going through, and I just want people to know that any type of help is greatly appreciated. I know times are tough these days for everyone, but I think that with our collective efforts, we can really help them get through this.
"Whether it's a card, a monetary donation, clothing, toys or a gift card, everything makes a difference."
The Mares family has set up a Paypal account for any donations to help their recovery.
To donate, log onto paypal.com, click on send money and then type in firstname.lastname@example.org. Mares said anyone that would like to contact her may also email her at her Yahoo address. She will be checking her Wicked email for company business next week.
Drake has set up a P.O. box for Mares where clothing, gifts, or donations can be sent to Mares' family. This box will accept any kind of package.
Mares Family Relief Fund
11024 Balboa Blvd. Box #758
Granada Hills, CA 91344
Any of the following children's supplies would be particularly welcomed:
Wii (recommended for burn physical therapy for children)
Wii Rataoille, Bakugon, Spongebob
Legos (good for physical therapy of the hand)
Grocery store, Target & Walmart gift cards
Diapers size 4
Unscented Baby Wipes