Vader burn victim dies, investigation underway

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Updated at 9:55 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The 39-year-old woman who suffered burns in a Vader house fire almost two weeks ago has died.

Jeannette Dunivan-Spain was put on life support last week at St. John Medical Center in Longview and two days later, she died, according to her mother Mary Dunivan.

“By Friday, she had no brain activity, they do not know what went wrong,” Dunivan said.


Jeannette Dunivan-Spain
1973 – 2013

The mother of two boys and sister to three brothers lived in Vader all her life, although she was born in Longview. She was estranged from her husband and lived in a fifth-wheel trailer in the area, but had recently begun staying at her mother’s home west of town.

“She was May Day queen, a good ball player,” Mary Dunivan said. “She was very smart.”

The night of the fire, she stayed with an old friend, in his house on C Street that had no electricity or running water.

Firefighters called just before 1 a.m. on Aug. 15 found the one and half story structure fully engulfed in flames, which were spreading to the neighbor’s place. Dunivan-Spain told deputies who arrived that she ran outside after trying to knock down the flames from a tipped over candle.

“She said the candle caught her blanket on fire, she woke up she was on fire,” her mother said.

Cowlitz-Lewis Fire District 20 Chief Richard Underdahl said yesterday he learned of her death but travels a lot in his work and hasn’t had a chance yet to speak with investigators

“I know the sheriff’s office is doing a follow up investigation,” he said.

Underdahl said at the time he believed she suffered second-degree burns, but he never saw her because she was at the end of the street with deputies and he was fighting the fire.

Paramedics from Lewis County Medic 1 arrived and called for Life flight, he said. A helicopter wasn’t available because of the weather so she was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to Underdahl.

Her burns were pretty bad, her mother said.

Dunivan said she’s still trying to make sense of what happened and why the Centralia hospital discharged her daughter that night instead of getting her to a burn center.

“She would be alive today, I believe, if that had happened,” she said.

Dunivan was stunned when the hospital said her daughter was being sent home, and that there was nothing more for them to do for her. “They wouldn’t even help me dress her,” she said.

“It was a couple hours after she got there,” she said. “I said, she should be given antibiotics, they said no, we gave her some cream, some pain pills and some bandages.”

Dunivan, who used to work as a certified nursing assistant, said her daughter had burns on her arms, her face and her legs. Her hair was singed, she said. The hospital said they were second-degree. “On her hand, looking at it now, it was probably third-degree,” she said.

The following day, a friend’s husband drove Dunivan-Spain to a hospital in Longview.

“We took her to St. John’s, they were flabbergasted Centralia had not done more,” Dunivan said.

They rewrapped her bandages, gave her antibiotics, pain medicine and more cream, she said.

Back at her mother’s home on Saturday, she seemed to be doing better. On Sunday she even went to the local cemetery with her husband to visit the graves of her father and little girl, her mother said.

“When I got home Monday evening, she was a mess,” Dunivan said. “She had chills, she was delirious. I don’t know what happened. She went bad pretty darn fast.”

An ambulance was called, but her daughter wanted her husband to drive her back to St. John Medical Center, and he did. And she never came home.

Dunivan-Spain began to improve on Tuesday, but by Wednesday, she’d had a heart attack, her gall bladder had an infection, her kidneys were failing and her lungs were in a bad way, her mother said.

The hospital had asked her daughter what kind of measures they should undertake, and her daughter told them do everything they could, she said.

“They put her on dialysis, they gave her everything they had to offer,” Dunivan said.

Her life support was disconnected on Friday.

“This is a tragic, tragic thing,” Dunivan said. “So many unanswered things we may never have answers for.”

Dunivan-Spain’s body was turned over to the Cowlitz County Coroner’s Office, who facilitated its transfer to the Lewis County Coroner’s Office. A detective with the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is working with a fire investigator in the case.

Structure fires ending in death are infrequent in Lewis County.

Sheriff’s Office detective Sgt. Dusty Breen said the last he could recall was the fall of 2010 when a fire broke out in the home of 54-year-old Gary Ike on Nicholson Road north of Toledo.

And about four years ago, a man ended up dying from smoke inhalation when his house on Burnt Ridge Road in Onalaska burned, Breen said.

“He was in the process of moving out, there was no electricity and the house caught fire while he was sleeping,” Breen said. “He’d borrowed some candles.”

According to the sheriff’s office, their investigation is awaiting the results of an autopsy, as it’s not certain it was injuries from the fire that killed her.

A spokesperson for Providence Centralia Hospital couldn’t speak about the treatment given to Dunivan-Spain but said they are committed to the highest level of patient care.

“We take any complaint very seriously,” Chris Thomas said. “And we have a thorough investigative process that is conducted when we do receive a complaint.”

As Dunivan mourns, she’s feeling gratitude for the last couple of weeks before the fire having so much time with her daughter.

Dunivan-Spain had recently been laid off from her job at a gas station convenience store and had an appointment about drug treatment coming up, her mother said.

Yes, she had a drug problem – everyone in Vader does, her mother said. But she wasn’t a typical Vaderite, she said.

Her daughter was the kind of person who never spoke poorly of others, she said.

“She never lost her innocence, she never harmed anyone, but herself,” she said.


A memorial service for Jeannette Dunivan-Spain will be held on Saturday at 2 o’clock in the afternoon at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 122 Henriott Road, Toledo, Wash.


For background, read “Vader house fire injures one” from Thursday August 15, 2013, here

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21 Responses to “Vader burn victim dies, investigation underway”

  1. Rather not say says:

    i just found this website and this article, as much as i miss her i read it and i saw some things in the article that were left out some things that were just flat out wrong. i was the one who picked up the phone to really the message that time needed to get her and take her to the hospital and i can say for certain that it wasn’t her idea to have her husband take her to the hospital by the time they got there it there were several people who could have taken her and if they would have been allowed to she would still be alive today. all of this is not to blame on one person its to blame on that family, they hate each other and cant deal with that and she got cought in the middle, its because of this she is gone.

  2. MDunivan says:

    1st and foremost I have lived in Vader for over 40 years. I know these kids that are doing the drugs. They have taken so many drugs that they are walking around with medical issues and they are so numb that they do not know it. Vader had an AA and NA group for 10 years ran by my husband and they would not attend. Some tried but, cannot get sober by themselves.
    Providence Medical Center gave my husband the best care in 2010. They were awesome and gave such comfort to him and to me before he died. What was different or changed. She had no medical and he did.
    I did not sue the hospital because that takes money and resources away from people who need it. Something else went wrong and they still do not know for sure. Even after the autopsies. She is at rest now and that is what is most important…+

  3. get smart, get out of Vader, and get help says:

    VADER has a reputation for drugs. My brothers still live there and DRUGS are their life. Work is not important to one as long as he has enough for drugs and the state pays him food stamps and free medical for the kid. Living in a garage raising kids. One child says “Dad says pot is legal.” I see the drug habit continuing with parents who say this shit to their kids. One day the cops will raid the garage, CPS will take the kid(s) and who knows what fate lies ahead for the children. This may be a great thing.
    So, calling Vader a drug town….YUP, I agree.

  4. Lisarae says:

    Anyone ever heard of EMTALA? Look it up! This woman was not denied care due to insurance or lack of. They, meaning either hospital, or both may in fact be liable for her demise. Chances are, probably not. When she left Providence, she likely didnt have an infection. Those need time to grow. Hard concept to wrap your mind around, but thats scientific fact. Now, when she left St Johns a few days later, she very well could have had that infection at that time. Sorry folks, that is not the fault of Providence. Medicine is a work in progress. Everyone seems to think it is miracle work. It is not. Some are lucky, and some are not, but we are ALL at risk for anything to happen, and that is not always “fixable” by seeing a Dr. And for those of you who claim these Dr’s are not qualified, get real! No, they are not perfect, and no they are not all good Dr’s however, they are very qualified, and much smarter than you will ever be. To think you are in a position to judge their qualifications shows your ignorance. A Dr of osteopathy IS a Dr. Do you even know what a Dr of osteopathy means? Likely not~

  5. Rosemary says:

    Given what I know (from personal experience) about Centralia hospital, I am not in the least surprised by the lack of care. The only thing they care about is the almighty dollar!!! And if the victim in this case didn’t have high-dollar insurance, the amount of care given was adjusted down to her economic means.

  6. SW-Mom says:

    Ever since Dr Billings and Dr Williams retired/left, that ER has been nothing but crap. Still have NO QUALIFIED DRS in the ER! They can’t get good help to come to this depressed poverty stricken county. And with Wa St mal-practice insurance?? HA! Go to UW Medical Center! They have it ALL!

  7. SW-Mom says:

    Centralia Providence Hospital is a JOKE! You know it is when they have a female Osteopath working the ER! Not to mention the unqualified joker nurses fresh out of school. Plus the crap hospital can’t handle MOST EMERGENCIES! Common joke around town is that if the first responder’s don’t save you, consider yourself DEAD! Have a heart attack, if you DO make it to Providence Centralia, CONSIDER YOURSELF DEAD!

  8. Rochester Girl says:

    How sad! It may be to soon to tell if the hospital was at fault, but from personal experience I am now avoiding Providence… I took a family member to Providence not to long ago and was dismayed at her care. The worst of it was an unrecognized allergic reaction to the antibiotics they gave her. I kept pointing out she was having trouble breathing and at the red blotches and pinpricks and welts all over her body not knowing what was wrong and the nurse commented that this antibiotic would make her red and she was sent her home with it. After leaving I took her to Tacoma General and they immediately recognized what was happening- got it under control and switched antibiotics. I know there are some wonderful caring and knowledgable staff there because my mom was treated great when she went. But unfortunately due to my experiences this time and two others, I would rather risk a very long drive elsewhere then ever return.

  9. Mesayst says:

    When in providence , after son complained about the aide working on my leg, I was given a hard time by thr RN on duty. Quote” she is the best aide we have “. I would hate to see the worst. Not until the day I left , 3days later, was I given anything to cleanse with, brush my teeth. Now, I have had excellent care at Morton General. They have improved so much over the years.

  10. adminsharyn says:

    Gen, such as? speak up, here or in a private message if you know something …

  11. Gen says:

    There is so much more to this story that should be reported before finding fault with the hospitals.

  12. Guilty Bystander says:

    Okay, I’m curious, hello (and anyone else, for that matter): What’s the BEST hospital for caring for their patients? No wrong answers…I just want to know.

    I’ve dealt with Centralia Providence quite a bit over the past year regarding a family member, and I’m willing to believe it’s like most hospitals in that some docs and nurses are better than others. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give it a 5 or 6. It’s not the Mayo Clinic but it’s not one of those Doc-in-the-Box clinics like CHEC Medical Center that I used to see everywhere in the Eighties, either.

  13. hello says:

    As far as I am concerned Centralia Providence is the worst hospital I know for NOT caring about there patients . A few years ago my friend died of gang green in his leg while begging and screaming for someone to help him. Another time because a elderly man was sick and bleeding and need several blood transfusions the E.R said don’t bring him back here we need that blood to save younger people. This man had surgery for colon cancer. How sad that they pick and choose who they want to save or help.

  14. MyExperience says:

    When my son was 14, he caught himself on fire messing with a burn barrel (burned off his shirt and shorts). The ER at Providence was absolutely amazing, and their work was a substantial reason my son has NO scars, despite a prediction that his face and hands would likely scar.

    The only upsetting things were

    They sent him home, which surprised me due to the extent of his burns. He was too big for me to carry into the house, but so doped up, I nearly had to drag him in and he immediately became very ill, vomiting all night.

    While in the ER, all persons wore sterile gloves, they even used sterile water to clean his skin prior to bandaging – but once he was admitted upstairs, it was a different story. My son again became ill and vomited directly onto his bandaged burns. I called twice for assistance and someone came nearly a full hour later. The “nurse” (I since believe it was probably a CNA) did not use sterile gloves, until I questioned her use of bare hands and a washcloth to clean his wound… only then did she get sterile gloves and use bottled water. Maybe I was over reacting, but it seemed that since they used those procedures downstairs, we should do the same upstairs?

    In the long run, son did not develop an infection, the silvadine they used on his burns was like magical cream and he was healed enough to attend a vacation five weeks later… in Florida in the summer sun!

    Some of what happened may well have been due to insurance requirements… if Providence doesn’t get paid for keeping someone in his condition, it truly becomes impossible to bill for bed space – I get that, I just think it is another form of evil that we need to keep fighting.

    All this came back to me while reading about Ms. Dunivan-Spain’s injuries and death. I pray that her family can find some peace around this and the autopsy is able to answer any questions. As far as the mom’s comments – she just lost her daughter. I can’t imagine anyone admonishing her for her comments when under such duress.

  15. Lisarae says:

    No words to express my sorrow for the loss of this family. However, I do have some words to express my annoyance with those blaming Providence hospital. No one, at this time, has any clear answers to why this woman died. My guess, in light of her organ failure, she became septic, but that remains to be seen. No, Providence did not send her to a burn unit, neither did St Johns, and in fact treated her exactly the same, to include antibiotics, and sent her on her way as well. If any medical facility is liable, tell me just how is it Providence and not St Johns? Or both? Or neither? With the extremely limited information made public, I think ppl are jumping the gun, and mamma should be careful not only calling everyone in Vader a druggie, but making accusation against any hospital yet. If she thinks she is gonna get rich off of the death of her child, she should maybe keep her mouth shut, and consult an attorney. And you OnyGirl….you just meander on over to Morton if it pleases you. As a past employee of that dump, I wouldnt take my dog there for stitches~

  16. BlickeyBlouse says:

    Providence is staring at a gigantic civil lawsuit.

  17. Larry Butler Fan says:

    And they typically speak poorly of others apparently.

  18. sandy says:

    Everyone in Vader has a drug problem????

  19. Mesayst says:

    My heartfelt condolences to the family. My son suffered 3rd degree burns on 20% of his body when he was 4 yrs old. He was set afire by an older child. He was given a 50/50 chance to live. Thanks to awesome care & prayer he survived, had numerous operation, well into his teen yrs. No, nothing legal happened to the other child.

    It is stressful enough for friends & family when something like this happens. Lets not speculate on the cause of the accident. Please give the family the consideration they need at this time. I have my son. They lost their daughter, don’t make it worse for them.

  20. Craig Casteel says:

    Everyone in Vader has a Drug problem? Something that the rest of the county should know??? Had many paitents over the 25 years that I was a Paramedic in lewis county, And most of the one’s that came out of Vader had lagit medical or Trauma issues. Old Mom might want to reconsider the peaple she and her family hang out with if they all have drug problems.

  21. OnyGirl says:

    “…her daughter had burns on her arms, her face and her legs. Her hair was singed”. Hello?? Facial burns & singed hair equals a high suspectibility for inhalation injury! WTF was Providence thinking? I get so disgusted with the poor treatment and mis-diagnosis that goes on there. If I ever need emergency care, I’ll insist on going to Longview, Olympia, or even Morton.
    So sorry for this family’s loss.

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