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Burned Lyric Opera Performer Goes Home From Hospital, Should Heal Quickly

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CHICAGO (STMW) – A horrifying moment captured on film had a happy ending on Thursday, as a Lyric Opera performer burned during a fire-breathing act this week went home from the hospital.

CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports a heavily bandaged Wesley Daniel flashed an okay sign before he went home from Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.

“Wesley is in good spirits,” said his father, Clifton Daniel. “We’re going to let him rest, and begin to heal, and take care of him.”

Lyric Opera performer Wesley Daniel is recovering from burns to his face and neck, suffered while performing a fire-breathing act on stilts. He suffered second-degree burns, but no damage to his lungs or throat, and is expected to make a full recovery, with little or no scarring. (Credit: Loyola University Health System)

Lyric Opera performer Wesley Daniel is recovering from burns to his face and neck, suffered while performing a fire-breathing act on stilts. He suffered second-degree burns, but no damage to his lungs or throat, and is expected to make a full recovery, with little or no scarring. (Credit: Loyola University Health System)

Wesley Daniel suffered second degree burns on his face, after an onstage fire-spitting stunt, went terribly wrong during dress rehearsals on Monday.

Daniel was first taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital after the accident, but then transferred to the burn unit at Loyola.

His doctor said the 24-year-old performer was exceptionally lucky, and his prognosis is very good.

“We expect him to heal his wounds without any operations, probably in 7 to 10 days after the accident,” Dr. Arthur Sanford said.

Daniel suffered burns just below his eyes, and down to his jaw, but no burns to his throat or lungs.

“There was initially concern, that’s why he had a breathing tube to protect his airway, but it was quickly removed, and he was able to breathe on his own without continued swelling,” Sanford said.

He predicted the accident would be only a “bad memory” for Daniel in six months.

For now, Daniel’s father said the actor was still struggling to get his voice back.

“His voice is still a whispery croak. … We get a lot of raised, waggled eyebrows, but he’s still having a little trouble,” he said. “There’s irritation to his throat.”

Clifton Daniel was in the audience at Monday’s rehearsal of “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg” when his son’s face caught fire while practicing a fire-breathing stunt as he was walking on stilts.

“To save him, there had to be fire extinguishers in his face,” he said. “It’s a huge relief to be getting him home, and he’s okay.”

Clifton Daniel said one of the first things his son will do is eat his favorite foods at home – lots of bacon and sausage.

The Lyric Opera and the Chicago Fire Department have said the fire-breathing stunt was approved by the Fire Department.

However, the opera has now removed the act from the show. Daniel’s accident was the second similar incident for a Lyric actor performing the stunt. The original actor for the part singed his mustache last week, and Daniel replaced him in the show.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Association has opened an investigation into Daniel’s accident.