By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A woman who jumped into a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park in October to save her dog has finally been released from the hospital.
Laiha Slayton has undergone 18 surgeries since October to repair the damage done by the scalding water.
“I’m doing a lot better,” Laiha told East Idaho News. “I’m undergoing some physical therapy and occupational therapy, and just working on getting better every day.”
She is also walking and gaining independence every day.
Laiha was burned when she jumped into a hot spring south of Madison Junction to rescue her dog, which had jumped out of the family’s vehicle and gotten away. Her father pulled her out of the spring and the dog ultimately died from its injuries.
She was in the scalding hot, 190-degree water for about eight seconds and received a mixture of second- and third-degree buns to 91% of her body below her chest. She was placed in a medically-induced coma after the incident.
“It was the worst pain I ever felt in my life, and I don’t think I could compare it to anything,” she said.
Laiha noted that the family had to drive 16 miles from where the incident occurred to call for help due to the lack of cellular service in the park.
She was unsure about the process of recovery now that she is out of the hospital, but noted that the Slayton family should know by the end of the month when she will be allowed to go home to Ohio, where she was moving from Washington when the family stopped at the park.
“A lot of people didn’t think she’d survive, let alone be where she is now,” Laiha’s sister, Kami Slayton, said. “She’s doing amazing. It’s a miracle.”
Laiha credited her father for helping her stay strong while in the hospital.
“My dad would always just tell me ‘In two weeks, you’ll be better than you are now.’ Every time, it proved right,” Laiha said.
One of Laiha’s goals is to become a dental hygienist once she recovers.
Slayton’s was the second significant injury in a thermal area in 2021. The first occurred in September at Old Faithful when a 19-year-old woman left the boardwalk on the park and suffered second- and third-degree burns to 5% of her body.