Police: 18-year-old thrown into bonfire during party
By MARIE LUBY
EAST GREENBUSH, N.Y. – A Rensselaer County man is behind bars after allegedly tossing a teen into a fire early Friday morning in a fit of rage. It happened at an outdoor party in East Greenbush.
Police say it was 23-year-old Bruce Vroman who grabbed 18-year-old Derek George and threw him into the flames. Friends quickly pulled Derek out, but it wasn’t fast enough.
18-year-old Derek George can barely speak through his pain. Second and third degree burns cover his leg, back, and half his face. “It hurts a lot,” he says softly.
Derek was at a party around a bonfire when he says Bruce Vroman, a man he did not know, yelled a racial slur at him.
Derek’s mother, Dorma George, explains, “Out of the blue they’re like, ‘you n***** you need to leave!’ ”
Derek says he tried to stay calm, telling Vroman, “I take that as disrespect. Just don’t say it, please don’t say it.”
That’s when Derek says Vroman rushed at him. Derek fought him to the ground, but does not remember being pushed into the fire. “That’s all I remember is saying, ‘somebody’s gonna get hurt,’ and waking up with my friends holding me, saying ‘you’re all burnt up.’ ”
His mother is calling it a hate crime.
“My son’s face, my son’s body is burnt. For what? Being black? It’s ridiculous,” says George.
George says all of her children have been repeatedly harassed by some in Vroman’s circle of friends, and she says she’s desperate for police intervention.
“It’s like a ball of fire just ready to explode, and I’m trying to stop it before someone gets killed…I don’t want my son to die like this,” she says.
Police say their investigation is not over. Vroman is charged with first degree assault. He’s being held in the Rensselaer County Correctional Facility without bail, and has a preliminary hearing set for Tuesday, October 13th.
Derek George is still undergoing outpatient treatment from Albany Medical Center.