Mother of young Pahrump burn victim hoping, praying for the best

The mother of one of two local boys seriously injured during what’s described as an out-of-control bonfire earlier this month remains in critical condition at UMC Trauma’s burn unit in Las Vegas.

Kristen Cleveland, the mother of victim Nathaniel Bautista-Cleveland, 13, said her son suffered second-and third-degree burns over 70 percent of his body the night of Dec. 2-3.

“Nathaniel is recovering right now and he’s had his third major surgery,” Kristen Cleveland said. “They did the treatment on his right arm and torso. He’s also had treatment on both legs. On Saturday, he had the left side of his torso and arm treated. As far as the duration of his treatment, Nathaniel is looking at six months to a year. It involves skin grafts, rehabilitation and physical therapy.”

Longtime friends

The boy’s close friend of more than seven years, identified as Chase Otteson, 12, suffered burns over 40 percent of his body.

The third boy, Hunter Otteson, 13, who reportedly got Nathaniel to the ground, in an effort to smother the flames, was released to his parents that very day.

All three are the sons of Nye County employees.

Cleveland noted that the boys basically grew up with each other, and are considered best friends.

“As far as I know, and as far as I can speak on it, they are both in critical condition, but they are both moving along relatively well with their treatment,” she said. “They appear to be recovering.”

Conveying thoughts

Cleveland also said she and other family members have been able to speak to her son Nathaniel “every now and then.”

“Fortunately, I am able to communicate to Nathan from time to time,” she noted. “He does have fleeting moments of alertness because he remains sedated most of the time for his pain. Nathan is strong and he’s handling the treatment pretty well. He is also fighting a high temperature right now, but he is staying pretty strong.”

Cleveland noted that Nathaniel is the oldest of four siblings, including an 11-year-old brother and step-sister, along with two much younger relatives.

“We try not to tell them much about the details of Nathaniel’s situation, but they can understand what’s happening,” she said. “His other two little brothers are 4 years old and 6 weeks old, so they don’t really comprehend fully what’s happening.”

Extracurricular activities

Described as a very athletic sixth grader at Rosemary Clarke Middle School, Cleveland said her son participates in numerous sporting events, including baseball and football.

“He loves every moment of it and he actually made the all Nevada Youth Sports team, which is the All-Star team,” she recalled. “Academically he is also very exceptional. I have never received any negative comments from his teachers other than the occasional class clown antics that most of us have done when we were in school at that age. As far as what he wants to do as a career, he tends to go back and forth, between either a K-9 cop, or an architect.”

Alternative holiday plans

With Christmas Day less than two weeks away, Cleveland said anguish of the tragic incident has obviously forced the family to rethink their holiday plans this year.

She also recalled how her entire extended family celebrated previous Christmas Day festivities.

“On Christmas Eve, we got our entire family and extended family together, and did a pajama, Christmas Eve dinner,” she said. “Instead of doing a traditional dinner, we did a great big breakfast for dinner. Everybody wears the craziest Christmas pajamas to dinner, and there is a big secret-Santa gift exchange after dinner. It has been a lot of fun over the years.”

Cleveland also said family members will pay a special visit to Nathaniel, come Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

“Unfortunately, his brothers and sisters are not allowed in the Intensive Care Unit,” she said. “Since he’s been in the hospital, he has had family with him around the clock. It’s usually me during the day and his stepdad there at night, so he’s never alone.”

The boys, Cleveland said, as of late have received much community support, including a visit from Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly in the aftermath of the event, as GoFundMe accounts have been established for the boys.

“It has been overwhelming and comforting to learn about the support that they have received,” she said. “We are all just trying to take it one day at a time. As far as our families, our goal is just to wish for the most positive recovery that we can for both Nathaniel and Chase. They are also both very athletic, so we just want to make sure that they both get back to participating in their respective sports that they love so much.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal contributed to this story.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at On Twitter: @pvtimes