Concert to benefit Basic High School teens injured in bonfire explosion

Just months after a summer bonfire severely injured seven students, Basic High School principal David Bechtel said some good is finally coming out of the tragedy.

Station Casinos is partnering with Basic High School alumni to host the #BasicStrong Benefit Concert featuring rock band Yellow Brick Road at 8 p.m. Oct. 1 at Club Madrid at Sunset Station, 1301 W. Sunset Road. The event is designed for all ages.

Tickets start at $25, and all proceeds are set to benefit the families of the injured students.

“We love our kids, and we’re glad they’re here with us,” Bechtel said. “We can live with a little pain, but it would be tough to live without these kids.”

Sixteen-year-old Kaysee Nitta, one of the students injured, said she appreciates the support and is excited for the concert.

“This will show people that we’re OK, that we’re getting better,” Nitta said. “We still have a ways to go, but it’ll show that we’re ready to get back and that we have a lot of support from people.”

The accident occurred the night of June 9 in the desert about 5 miles southeast of Henderson. Nitta said the group was celebrating the school’s commencement ceremony earlier that day.

The celebration turned into an abrupt trip to the hospital. Michael Brandon Boyd Jr. was arrested on charges that he caused the explosion when he rolled a 55-gallon drum of fuel into the fire.

“It was just supposed to be a fun thing, you know, and it went wrong,” Nitta said. “We had each other’s backs, and we were all trying to make sure everyone was safe, but it just happened.”

Left without cellphone service, Nitta said the teens had to drive themselves to the hospital.

“We were about 15 minutes from a real road,” she said. “It would have actually taken longer for someone to get out there to us, so we went ourselves.”

Nitta suffered second- and third-degree burns covering about 90 percent of her body. She spent 1½ months recovering at University Medical Center, 1800 W. Charleston Blvd., and was the last of the teens to go home.

Despite having long-term nerve damage, Nitta said her legs have healed, and her arms are recovering.

“It was definitely a life changer,” she said. “I’m an athlete, so that sort of put a hold on a lot of stuff I do at school. It’s affected my mom and her work and my siblings and how their summer went. It’s also drawn us closer because we spent a lot of time together, and there’s a lot of care.”

Although the incident happened during summer vacation, Bechtel said the school’s students were still impacted. Many teens crowded the hospital’s waiting room in support of their fellow classmates.

“To be honest, if this had happened during the school year … I think our school would have been a total mess,” Bechtel said, “but the kids were at home with their families, and I thank God they were because that’s where the best support comes from.”

Bechtel said his staff is focusing on supporting the students rather than lecturing them on the incident.

“My kids weren’t out doing anything wrong. They were hanging out and doing the same things we did as kids,” Bechtel said. “It was a really sad, tragic accident, and my kids paid for it. How can you even teach a lesson on that?

“The best thing we can do is provide emotional support for the kids that survived it, emotional support to the kids that are friends with them and any financial support we can throw together as a community.”

Given the OK to return to school, Nitta said she plans to complete her junior year “like it didn’t happen.”

“I just want to be involved in things like I was before,” she said. “I was on the volleyball team, so I want to go and see the team play. I want to make sure I can still go and do things with people this year.”

Because of her positive outlook, Nitta was asked by UMC to speak and encourage other youths in the burn unit, according to her mother Shelly.

“She’s the first teen they’ve ever asked to do this,” Shelly said. “The inspiration she’s shown is just amazing. She’s always wanted to be a (veterinarian), and that’s still her main goal. She has a lot of hand damage, but she’ll work through it.”

For more information on the benefit concert or to purchase tickets, visit sclv.com/concerts or call 800-745-3000.

Contact Henderson View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at cbelcher@viewnews.com at 702-383-0403.

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