SANTA BARBARA (CBSLA.com) — Two teenagers authorities say were with a 14-year-old at the time of an apparent prank that involved being doused with lighter fluid and set on fire will be charged, it was announced Monday.
Authorities said the two teens will be charged with felony arson and assault in connection with the incident, which occurred six months ago.
The charges, however, will be dismissed if the teens fulfill the terms of a pre-plea diversion agreement.
“It is agreed that these charges will be dismissed if they conclude and they are able to complete all of the terms and conditions of this agreement,” Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley said.
That agreement specifies that the two defendants complete community service, counseling and meet one-on-one with Jacob Keefer’s mother, who was at Monday’s news conference.
In addition, they must also write letters to Keefer and his mother and stay off social media while they complete the terms of the agreement.
The terms of the agreement, according to officials, must be completed by the anniversary of the incident.
“This really has been led by Jacob’s mother. She has always felt that she wanted them to learn from it, to be better men, but also impress upon the community how dangerous this is and how she didn’t want it to happen to any other family,” Dudley said.
Keefer suffered third-degree burns to his upper body and required a lengthy hospital stay and numerous skin grafts.
It’s believed that the three boys were taking part in what’s being called the “fire challenge” on social media. Graphic videos of young people lighting themselves on fire, then jumping in a pool or shower are all over the Internet.
Prosecutors have never gone into specifics about what happened that day.
Tara Haaland-Ford, an attorney for one of the defendants, says they’re healing, too.
“Realizing after the fact that their split-second choices had a 14-year-old, have forever changed the life of their friend and their lives and I think on a daily basis they are dealing with the impact of that,” she said.
Keefer’s mother did not want to talk at the news conference, but Dudley says her son is healing well but is still in a tremendous amount of pain.