Clermont police officer Kris Kruse, 22, was off duty when he was sitting around a bonfire with friends during a Super Bowl after party. He noticed that a small gas can was placed too close to the fire pit, so he went to move it. As he reached for it, the can burst into flames and his friends rushed to extinguish the blaze that had begun to consume his body. He was so badly burned that he was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center where he spent time in intensive care.
His mother Jill Kruse says Kris was in the hospital for 90 days then rehab for two weeks. He is now healing from his wounds at home with the help of a home health nurse and an occupational therapist. Kris is regaining his strength and is appreciative of everyone who has rallied around him to wish him well.
“This has shown me that prayers really do work,” he says.
The outpouring of support for Kris has been close to overwhelming with cards, letters and emails streaming in from around the globe.
“It has helped tremendously,” Kris says of the well wishes. “I don’t know where we’d be without it. I was in the hospital out cold, and it gave my parents something to read and helped them feel good. Also, when I woke up, I had millions of nice messages to read.”
At the time of the accident, Kris had been on the force for about seven months and was one half of the only father-son police team in the city’s history. Although he is facing a long road to recovery – an expected 12 to 18 months – Kris has plans to return to the force, working light duty.
“Our son has been healed and thousands of lives have been touched by his story,” Jill says. “We look forward to where God leads Kris with his heart for service and his love for others.”
Kris is eagerly looking forward to working with his dad Jack Kruse again. Being in law enforcement runs in their veins. Jill notes that her son is committed to his profession, previously meeting with the National Law Enforcement Exploring Committee in Washington D.C. and assisting with International Association of Chiefs of Police and National Sheriff Association conferences. He joined the Clermont Police Department last July after graduating from the Police Academy.
During conversations with Kris, his voice is upbeat and he maintains a positive outlook on life. He stresses the importance of offering “a huge thank you” for the support he has received, crediting his parents and the community for helping him to make it through.
“What I’ve learned from this experience is that no matter what is thrown your way, don’t blame God for it,” Kris says. “Stay strong and keep pushing and you’ll get through it.”