FOND DU LAC, WI (WTAQ) - A West Bend man accused of causing a bonfire that burned seven people struck a plea deal this week, after being on trial for two days.
26-year-old Kyle De Ruyter pleaded guilty to 5 felony counts of causing injury by the negligent use of a weapon or explosives. Three other charges were dropped.
Fond du Lac County District Attorney Dan Kaminsky said 5 witnesses testified for the prosecution before De Ruyter changed his not guilty plea. He said the plea bargain was a good deal for the defendants, because the man’s guilty plea can be used against him in civil suits can could be filed by the victims.
The bonfire took place in June of last year at a home in Campbellsport. Authorities said De Ruyter tried to beef up the flames by pouring gas on the fire, and it exploded.
De Ruyter escaped injury, but 7 others ran into a nearby pond – and it was only after they left the water that they started feeling burned.
Craig Kell was the most seriously injured, with burns to 40 percent of his body. He and the others ended up going into a hospital in a car, because nobody called 911.
Investigators say they are not accusing De Ruyter of trying to cover up the incident by not calling for help. He awaits sentencing, but no date has been set for that.