One of just a couple of people who were hospitalized after escaping the Ghost Ship fire on December 2 in Oakland, 32-year-old Sam "Peaches" Maxwell is surviving proof of how deadly the conditions inside the warehouse were. Maxwell remains in critical care at St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco, and his parents tell KRON 4 that he only recently has come out of a medically induced coma and was able to tell his mother he loves her. And though he is in the burn unit, Maxwell reportedly avoided severe skin burns by crawling out of the building to safety.
Maxwell suffered complications from severe smoke inhalation, though, which has been reported as the cause of death for the majority of the 36 individuals who died in the blaze, which spread from the first to the second story of an illegal live-work space and sometime music venue, trapping dozens while they were still conscious and unharmed. Several sent text messages to loved ones in the minutes before they succumbed, knowing they were going to die.
Maxwell himself sent a text message to his mom saying, "I’m alive I’m out," but his mother Wendi Maxwell tells KRON 4, "I had no idea what he was talking about." She went on Twitter, she said, and saw "live footage of a warehouse with flames shooting up into the sky."
When he arrived at the hospital on the morning of December 3, Maxwell was told he would only be there for three days, but clearly this was before doctors had assessed the severity of his injuries, which ultimately required the medically induced coma.
Ever since his parents have been commuting to his bedside from Stockton, and his father William Maxwell says "It’s terrible for a parent especially when they’ve got him in this coma and he’s lying there motionless with his eyes half open."
Maxwell's family has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help them with what will be enormous medical and recovery expenses, and it has raised $5000 of its $50,000 goal so far.
While potential lawsuits are still taking shape, likely implicating some combination of Oakland city officials, warehouse landlord Chor Ng, and Ghost Ship proprietor Derick "Ion" Almena, Maxwell's parents say it's hard to say who should be to blame. It's clear, though, that as one of the most injured survivors, Maxwell will be a major recipient of any cash rewards that come of these potential suits.