CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Michelle Smith was FaceTiming with her daughter who's overseas with the Air Force Wednesday afternoon.
So when she received calls from her son, 20-year-old Jared Smith, and his wife, she didn't interrupt her video chat -- opting instead to call them back later.
“Yesterday was my birthday," Michelle said. "So I thought they were just calling me to tell me happy birthday."
The Corpus Christi couple was trying to let Michelle know that Jared had been badly burned by an explosion in an apartment where he was working. When she called him back, she got the news, and headed straight for Bay Area Hospital.
"When I got over there, he was able to talk and everything, but he was in so much pain," Michelle said.
Jared's wife, Alyssa Milligan, had a similar reaction to seeing her husband of just shy of two years in his hospital bed.
"It was honestly really scary," she said. "And I just immediately saw all the burn marks on his hands and over his face."
Part of Smith's face was spared by the respiratory face mask he was wearing while resurfacing a bathtub at the Chandler's Mill apartments near the intersection of Airline and Holly.
The fumes the mask was protecting him from came from the lacquer the job required. But those gases built-up to the point where some kind of spark ignited them.
The resulting blast blew a large hole in the wall to the outside of the building and left Smith with burns to 30 percent of his body.
The burns to his arms and legs were third degree. But that mask he was wearing over his mouth and nose kept extremely hot gasses from the blast from getting into his lungs with possibly deadly consequences.
"That mask saved his life," Alyssa said. "That’s what the doctors said."
The doctors are now saying Jared needs two or three surgeries to help his burns heal, with the first one scheduled for Friday morning.
Treatments will continue for three to five weeks in the burn unit at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where he was flown to because of the severity of his injuries.
Then there will be months of out-patient rehabilitation, that might require Jared and Alyssa to relocate with their 15-month-old baby, Anastasia, closer to the hospital.
It all adds up to large expenses for the young family, and Jared will likely be left with scars from his severe burns. But his wife and mother are focused on the big picture.
“I’m going to look at him like he’s my same handsome husband as he was before of course," Alyssa said.
"I’m just so thankful that my son survived this, because it was a pretty bad blast," Michelle said fighting back tears.
If you'd like to donate money to the Smith family to help them make ends meet you can click here.