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Burned Italian Touch worker expected to make recovery

By Sally Voth

A Middletown pizzeria worker burned in a flash fire from an oven Saturday is expected to recover, restaurant manager Keith Ridgeway said Monday.

"He's doing fine," the manager of Italian Touch, 7603 Main St., said. "He's going to recover."

Frederick County Fire and Rescue Assistant Fire Marshal William Pifer said the 911 came in at about 11 a.m., and Middletown Fire Department was at the restaurant within about three minutes.

"They found one victim that had some burns to his face and hands," Pifer said.

A pilot light on a malfunctioning pizza oven was out when employees came to work Saturday, according to Ridgeway.

"The victim was in the process of attempting to relight that pilot light when an accumulation of gas there at the appliance actually ignited in what we call a flash fire," Pifer said.

The fire flashed and ignited the worker, and then went out without catching anything else in the restaurant on fire, he said.

The burn victim was airlifted to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, which has a burn center, Pifer said.

Ridgeway only knew the employee as Oscar, and said he expected him to be getting out of the hospital "in the next day or so." He hadn't talked to Oscar, but said another Spanish-speaking employee had.

"They said he was doing good," Ridgeway said. "The burn on his face is pretty much like a sunburn, so it wasn't as bad as we thought. He turned out OK."

There are no medical centers for patients suffering burns in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, Pifer said. Several factors are involved when deciding whether to airlift a patient to one, he said, and include the percentage of the body burned, the degree of the burns, and the part of the body affected. He said burns to the face are a reason to fly someone to a burn unit.

Ridgeway said Italian Touch has set out a donation jar to help with Oscar's medical expenses. He said he had worked at the pizza place for a couple weeks.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com


Italian Touch should pay his hospital bills since it was a malfunctioning pizza oven. Donations should be for his family or for himself to pay his or his family's living expenses while he cannot work. Surely the restaurant has insurance. What is workmans comensation for? Oscar should not have to pay his hospital bills.

JM. I agree with you. Workercomp picks this up. I don't agree with with alot of things here. I don't even think that Ridgeway is worried about what happened to Oscar. I hope a good lawyer reads this and picks it up for him. Because some people don't understand what the laws are if they get hurt at work. And to admit they are just going to sit a jar out for him to help with his medical bills. This is going to be a life time scar for Oscar.

I find it sad and curious that the restaurant manager doesn't even know his last name?

Can you say undocumented worker?

Maybe people should learn all the facts before making comments. Also of course a corporation such as this one has insurance and workers comp. Thats a requirement in all restaurants. Also managers don't always know peoples last names. Do you go around calling fellow employees by first and last names? Owners will know this info but not all managers know more than first names. And furthermore the Undocumented Worker statement is clearly tasteless and is just an open, unwarranted, and uninformed slander toward a person who was the victim of an unfortunate accident. Maybe you should show some reserve, do some research, use common sense or maybe figure out ALL the facts before commenting and making unfounded and uninformed claims. Thank you.

Mayor maybe Ridgeway should of watched what he said during the interview. Saying that they were setting out a jar for medical bill for Oscar does not leave a very good taste in my mouth.

It sounds to me you want to be the one that people feels sorry for. It is Oscar that we are worried about here making sure he gets what he should.

First I don't want people to feel sorry for me at all. Oscar is the one and only victim here. It's just that I feel people are losing sight of that slightly. Also I agree that Ridgeway's comments are not very well thought out. The only thing I can say about that is, I am a weekly customer of this restaurant and know that even though Ridgeway was called the manager in this interview, he really is not. He is a delivery driver and occasionally is inside answering phones. I'm sure the legal and moral values of Oscar are going to be attended to. In all reality, it is him and only him that need to be taken care of. The statements of an individual that doesn't have a grasp on the inner workings of an employers legalities and employee safety, (Ridgeway) should not be considered concrete or completely factual. I am glad that reports are that Oscar is doing well and will recover will fully and I am more than confident that his well being will be taken into account and attended to by his employer.

It depends on how many employees the business has, whether or not workers comp. pays.
A business with only a few employees does not have to have or pay for workers comp.
There are quite a few businesses in the area that does not have workers comp. And in Virginia if an employee is even 1% to blame, meaning they knew it could be dangerest to do what they did, forget suing the business. The employee is out of luck.
Don't believe me, look it up.

There are more then one italian touch's in the area. I know woodstock has one and mount jackson has one...maybe they are owned by the same people. So hopefully they employ enough people for them to have workmans comp.

I always thought most places of employment had the workmans comp benefits if they paid taxes, but I may be wrong. I've been wrong more then a few times.

If it has not changed it is more then 2 people not including the owner himself. And I am sure that they have more then that many people employeed. I just hope that all the I are dotted and the t are crossed. And that statement the Ridgeway made will help Oscar get what he needs from workerscomp. If he is not a manager or has no authority of the business then he should of never made a comment about what happen.

I agree that he should have never made those comments and I also fully believe that Oscar will be taken care of. This isn't an article about malice just an accident. It exactly what workers comp is for. So we agree Kimberly.

I think we are all in agreement that the guy interviewed for this story, was not a manager. But I do not have any clue about the middletown restaraunt.

The 2 shendandoah locations of italian touch, have great food. Sal's in Edinburg only has better italian food. I think Roma's in stephens city may be kneck and neck with italian touch.

I have no business ties to Sal's Bistro in Edinburg, VA. But people north of shenandoah county or anywhere that haven't tried Sal's dinner or lunch do not Know what they are missing.

I like a Good Sal's Sub, But beware they do not serve them after 5:00, atleast the last time I ate there.

I think it is great that they have set out a collection jar for the worker. I have had more than enough experience dealing with Workers' Compensation because of injuries my husband sustained at work. Workers' Compensation does not kick in until after an employee has missed 7 days of work. I don't know about you, but most people who are working in a restaraunt don't have vacation time, therefore, being out of work for 7 days can be devastating. Then it can take WEEKS to even get the first check from the insurance company, and subsequent checks don't always come when you expect them to. Workers' Compensation will pay 100% of all medical bills, prescriptions, and travel time once the claim has been APPROVED, however, pay is only paid at 66 2/3% of your gross salary. So.....while, yes, Oscar should be receiving Workers' Compensation benefits, it could be weeks before he and his family see the first dime. Kudos to his employer for setting out a jar. I only wish the same had been done for my husband when he sustained a serious back injury that required two surgeries and left him out of work for over a year. He went 6 weeks without a paycheck before we ever saw the first dime.

Thanks for the update mayor. An interesting side note is that Middletown's Mayor works at italian touch. Maybe you should capitalize that M.

Always call your gas company to restart any pilot lights. The management should have told this fellow before letting him work with a gas oven.

If you know anything about AFLAC, you should know that you can only purchase AFLAC Disability Insurance if your employers offers it as a benefit and will agree to payroll deduction. Not all employers offer AFLAC as an option, and not all employers offer any type of Short Term Disability. Furthermore, most STD insurances do not pay when the accident occurs at work.

I worked with Oscar for about a year and a half before he worked at Italian Touch. He's a good guy and I got along with him well.

When I heard about this, it was from a mutual friend who said he is still in the hospital and the burns were far worse than "like a sunburn."

According to our mutual friend, he was in so much pain from inhaling flames down his throat and through his nostrils on top of his face burning, he was medically induced into a coma so as to calm him down. Also, it was apparently known that the oven was malfunctioning but the owner was to cheap to fix it.

I am very upset at the "manager's" response.

I hope our friend is pulling my leg and I just look like an idiot rambling on over a sunburn. But I don't think he'd make a joke out of this.

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