PORTLAND, Ore. – A Portland Taco Bell employee who was burned by fryer oil when a suspected drunk driver crashed into the building is still in a hospital with serious burns all over her body.
Cynthia Smith was working at the restaurant near Southeast 126th and Division. She was standing next to the fryer around 3 a.m. Sunday when a car slammed into the building.
“I saw the wall come out and I saw the fryer oil slosh on me,” Smith said. “It sounded more like a bomb had went off. It was huge. The whole building shook.”
Smith said what she saw next sent her into a panic.
“I started to see the skin starting to come off,” she said. “It kind of felt like pretty much every nerve ending that I had was on fire. Like all I could do was shake.”
At the hospital, Smith found out just how bad the burns were. The oil burned skin on nearly every limb.
“I got both of my shoulders too, and my thighs, so probably my thighs and my and right arm are the worst off.”
Smith said she may need skin grafts. She can’t sleep at night, but not because of the pain.
“I don’t sleep a whole lot, maybe an hour or two at a time before I wake up. I keep having flashbacks,” said Smith. “It’s kind of hard.”
Smith said she plans to go home from the hospital on Wednesday.
Police said the driver whose car hit the building, 23-year-old Samantha Jane Riley, was later arrested. She faces charges including DUII, felony hit and run, assault and reckless driving.
“You make decisions in your life and if you're gonna make the bad ones you kind of deserve everything that’s going to happen to you,” said Smith.