SEGUIN, Texas – “I can’t die today."
That was the thought that Marquis Coulter said ran through his head as his jeans, boots and body caught fire. Despite his severe injuries, he is now grateful for the kindness of strangers, particularly for the man in a red truck whom Coulter calls an angel.
As Coulter sits to talk, he shivers and catches his breath. His pain is palpable. More than a third of his body is badly burned - including his right foot, his legs and his lower back and rear. Still, this self-described street preacher said he is blessed.
“I’m grateful because I still have my hands,” he said. “And, I have life.”
Coulter recently moved his wife and four young children to Texas from Illinois.
Oct. 12 was his first day on the job with a landscaping company. At the end of his day, something went tragically wrong. While mowing grass in nearby New Braunfels, Coulter said his commercial riding mower somehow slid into a ditch and tumbled. He could feel the gasoline soaking him.
“I was in tall grass,” he recalled. “I crawled away from it, stood up and there was a gigantic explosion and boom! I was on fire. I noticed my pants on fire, my boots were on fire, my shirt was on fire."
Coulter said he struggled to rip off his flaming clothing, melting into his skin.
“I almost gave up because I was scared,” he said.
Then, he heard a voice telling him to drop and roll.
“This guy, I don’t know who he was, just some fella in a red truck,” Coulter said choking up with emotion. “That guy was an angel. He was sent from above to help me because if I didn’t have someone to help me get that stuff off, I’d have been in big, big trouble.”
A co-worker arrived and drove Coulter to a nearby hospital, carrying him in on his back. Coulter had to be airlifted to Brooke Army Medical Center’s burn unit where he was treated for nearly three weeks.
He faces a tough recovery- physically, emotionally and financially. He knows the bills will soon arrive, and he’s unable to work.
Coulter said his employer is helping as well as their new neighbors who drop off donations, even food for their dogs. His family has started online crowdfunding to help.
For now, every step he takes hurts, but it’s a walk he said he makes for his kids and with God, one step at a time.
“People are stepping up to do things for me that aren’t even expected,” he said. “I’m seeing God’s hands working right now.”