Ray Corfino, 11, of Cornelia, Georgia, is hospitalized with severe burns over 30% of his body after attempting to perform a magic trick popularized in a YouTube video.
Courtesy of Clint Eller

CORNELIA, Ga — A preteen is in the hospital with severe burns after a failed attempt to perform a magic trick he saw in a YouTube video, according to his family.

The video showed viewers how to ignite paper money that had been saturated with rubbing alcohol, according to police in Cornelia, about 75 miles northeast of Atlanta. Once the paper is lit, it is waved around, extinguishing the flames.

In the end, the paper does not look like it has been burned.

Ray Corfino, 11, attempted to do the same trick Monday but caused an alcohol bottle to explode, said Ray's uncle, Clint Eller. Ray suffered burns to 30% of his body and will require skin grafts on his shoulders, neck, chest and arms; the boy's home also was damaged.

Ray's phone had parental blocks but the YouTube video that inspired him was labeled as a harmless magic trick, Eller said.

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“Ray likes reptiles, race cars and magic. And wrestling, he’s a big wrestling fan,” his uncle said. "Ray is the sweetest child you'll ever meet. Big heart. Loves everybody." 

Although the family has been getting a lot of support in this city of fewer than 5,000 people about 20 miles from the Georgia-South Carolina border, they also are receiving backlash, saying the child had it coming. Ray is a child with special needs, Eller said.

“It’s sad. There have been such great outreach from everybody. People we don’t know. People we do know," Eller said. But there have been people who have been really ugly about it, actually, saying that ‘he got what he deserved’ and that's ‘Darwinism at its best’ and things like that because they (police) originally said that he had doused himself with alcohol and lit himself on fire as part of a challenge.

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"That is not the fact,” Eller said. “There are videos like this that slip through the cracks of your parental guard and could happen to anybody.”

Cornelia Police were dispatched Monday to a burned male juvenile, according to a post on Facebook. Police originally thought the child had been performing a popular YouTube video challenge known as the Alcohol Challenge; however, after further investigation, officers realized that was not the case.

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