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Galax teen recovering from severe burns

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Hannah Swiger, a 13-year-old student and athlete at GHS, was burned in an explosion on Sept. 9.

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By BRIAN FUNK and SHAINA STOCKTON
Staff

A Galax High School student and athlete is recovering from second- and third-degree burns she received in an accident at home.
Hannah Lee Swiger, 13, is in the intensive care burn unit at Brenners Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C., after an explosion caused burns to her legs, hands and face.
Her father, Rob Swiger of Galax, said he was repairing a dryer at their home Sept. 9 when a can of lubricant caught fire and exploded. He was singed in the face, but the fire inexplicably went around him.
Hannah, who had just returned home from her youth group meeting at Cornerstone Church, was struck by the blast. About 30 percent of Hannah’s body has second-degree burns and one shin has third-degree burns.
Hannah is recovering and has received an outpouring of love and support, her father said.
On Facebook, Rob Swiger posted an update on Hannah: “She is resting and healing as she should. Her strength and determination humble me as a person and make my chest swell up with pride as a father. Your prayers are being felt and God is holding her close and personally overseeing each little cell being added to her body.”
Hannah plays volleyball, basketball and softball for GHS and also plays for a local AAU basketball team. She is a member of the drum line in the Maroon Tide band and is involved in the youth group at Cornerstone.
She is a huge Virginia Tech fan and plans to attend college there, said her aunt, Valerie Donithan of Hillsville.
“That’s my baby girl. She’s like one of my own,” said Tammy Parnell, Hannah’s AAU basketball coach. “I never got any attitude from Hannah. She was always the same. She has an unbelievable work ethic.
“She gives 110 percent, no matter what. I can always count on her. Someone will tell her she can do something in two weeks, and she’ll have it done in a couple of days.”
That attitude should serve her well during recovery, said Sally Hill, Hannah’s GHS 8th grade softball coach.
“I’ve known Hannah in a lot of other aspects besides sports. She’s good friends with my daughter. Hannah is an outgoing, fun person and I hate to see anything that gets her down.
“I know that she’s determined and probably won’t let anything stop her. I think she will fight hard. She wants to do the best she can and I’m sure she will do this the same way.”
Amber Gillespie, Hannah’s 8th grade volleyball and basketball coach, said she’s a good athlete who works hard. “She’s always happy to be playing any sport, really. We want her to get better more than anything.”
Donithan is working on a fundraiser to help with medical costs and other expenses. Hannah’s dad will be out of work for a while to care for her. She also has set up a post office box for friends and family to send Hannah cards.
Messages can be sent to P.O. Box 932, Galax, Va. 24333.