A Tennessee husband and father died on Thanksgiving after flames burst over his body when defibrillator paddles were used at a hospital


  • A Tennessee man died after he caught on fire while hospital staff used a defibrillator on him.

  • The man's wife was in the room when her husband caught ablaze, telling WKRN that "it just blew up."

  • The hospital system said they are reviewing the "functionality of equipment" following the incident.

A father and husband died in Tennessee on Thanksgiving day after he caught on fire as hospital staff attempted to use a defibrillator on him. 

Bobby Ray Stark was bedridden for seven years and relied on his wife of 35 years, Kathy, for care, according to WKRN. He was taken to the hospital for a foot infection and bed sores last month, and he was later transferred to TriStar Centennial, where he coded and staff tried to revive him with a defibrillator, Kathy Stark told the outlet. 

"Then they started the paddles, and it just blew up, everything," Kathy Stark told WKRN. "I saw that, and I just burst out." 

Kathy Stark told the outlet that she watched the flames cover her husband's body. 

"He got burned in the throat, the face, the head, the chest and his hands. And he got burnt really bad, he was on fire, and I said, 'He's on fire, put him out,'" Kathy Stark told WKRN.

Bobby Ray Stark was taken to the burn unit, where he later died on Thanksgiving night, Kathy Stark told the outlet. In the wake of his death, she is staying with his daughter, Joyce Feakes.

The hospital told Kathy Stark that "this has never happened before," Feakes told WKRN. 

"They need to make sure that that doesn't happen to somebody else, so somebody else doesn't lose their husband, their best friend, their dad," Feakes told the outlet. "And even worse, we lost him on Thanksgiving." 

In a statement to WKRN, TriStar Centennial said they extended their "deepest sympathies to this family for the loss of their loved one."

"While we cannot discuss specifics, we are reviewing the care provided to the patient and the functionality of equipment. The death of a loved one is always very difficult, and our hearts go out to this family," the hospital's statement said. 

Feakes started a GoFundMe to raise money for Kathy Stark, who she said relied on Bobby Ray Stark's social security for income, according to the fundraiser's post. 

"She was in the room and witnessed everything that had happened to him at Centennial. Not only does she have to deal with the loss of her husband and best friend, but she has to live with seeing and smelling everything that happened to him," Feakes wrote on the GoFundMe.

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