Vegas arrest brings tears from blast victim

Kaysee Nitta didn’t cry the night she was burned over 80 percent of her body three months ago.

But the 16-year-old’s mother said she cried earlier this week when Michael Brandon Boyd Jr. was arrested on charges that he caused the explosion that severely burned her and six of her Basic High School classmates at a bonfire in the desert south of Henderson June 9.

“They kept telling us to wait,” Shelly Nitta said Friday, referring to Clark County and Henderson fire investigators who slowly combed through the evidence of what happened that night.

For three months, Kaysee worked diligently to recover from the burns that threatened the high school junior’s life. She spent weeks in the burn unit at University Medical Center and was the last of the teenagers to be released from the hospital.

“Kaysee was upset that he did this and wasn’t being held accountable,” Shelly Nitta said. “He was still out there like nothing had happened.”

All the while, Kaysee has been working hard with physical rehabilitation specialists to get to the point that she can return full time to Basic High.

Kaysee’s medical routine includes wrapping and rewrapping her wounds, which can be excruciatingly painful, Shelly Nitta explained.

“At least this is the start of him being held accountable for his actions,” Shelly Nitta said of Boyd’s arrest Wednesday.

Since the June explosion, members of the Basic High School community have come together to hold several fund­raising events to help the victims pay for the hefty medical bills that resulted.

A benefit concert for the victims featuring the rock band Yellow Brick Road is scheduled for Oct. 1 at Sunset Station.

The bonfire was near an abandoned building on Bureau of Land Management land in the far southeast valley, about five miles south of Henderson.

A group of teenagers gathered on the night of Basic High’s commencement ceremony, but their celebration was interrupted when a boy identified by students as “Mikey” rolled a 55-gallon drum of fuel into the fire between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. The boy, who was not a Basic student, found the barrel nearby.

“Next thing I knew, I was running away and my friends were on fire,” burned teen Maddie Anderson told the Review-Journal in June.

The injured teenagers were out of cellphone range and drove themselves to the hospital. Clark County officials confirmed that no Las Vegas-area fire departments or ambulance services were called. BLM couldn’t open an investigation at the time because no 911 services were called.

“Based on numerous interviews with witnesses following the late-night incident and evidence collected at the scene, investigators believe Boyd threw a 55-gallon drum on top of the fire,” Clark County spokeswoman Stacey Welling said. “Heat from the fire caused the drum and its contents to explode, resulting in the spread of the bonfire and injuries to bystanders.”

Boyd, who escaped serious injury from the blast, faces 15 charges including mayhem, third-degree arson, and acting in reckless regard. Eleven of the charges are felonies and four are gross misdemeanors. If convicted of all counts, he could face two to 89 years in prison.

Boyd remains jailed at the Henderson Detention Center on $37,000 bail. He is set to appear before Henderson Justice of the Peace David Gibson on Wednesday.

Contact Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512. Follow @fjmccabe on Twitter.