Ward Larsen got burned on Valentine's Day this year, but not by his sweetheart.
Larsen, 38, was burned Feb. 14 when he attempted to clear an outlet valve in an acid containment area at the J.R. Simplot Co. in Pocatello. As a patient at University Hospital, he underwent excision and skin grafting over 20 percent of his body that had been burned by acid. Skin was taken from his hip and thigh to cover his lower extremities.But Larsen's story has a happy ending. Saturday afternoon in the hospital's Hope Chapel, he married his sweetheart, Dena Barfus. The couple met a year and a half ago while they were attending Idaho State University.
They had planned to marry in August, but Larsen's accident encouraged them to move the date forward. So, with bandaged hands and lying in a bed, Ward Larsen took Dena Barfus to be his wife.
The groom wore a black button-down shirt with a white rose pinned to his collar. The bride was radiant in a white blouse and brown skirt, holding a bouquet of white roses. They were married by Judge Michael Hutchings.
"I proposed to him, and he wasn't in a position to run away," said the bride with a smile. The couple decided to move the date up so Dena could aid Ward in his recovery after he's released.
"We were kind of forced into spending a lot of extra time together," said Larsen of the new wedding date.
"I think he's wonderful. He's very courageous and very strong. We're very proud of him," said Dena's mother, Suzanne Bollinger, of her new son-in-law. Dena's father, Dean, gave her away, and then proceeded to snap pictures of the newlyweds.
Dena said she never expected to have her wedding in a hospital chapel, but added, "today, I couldn't ask for anything more. It's wonderful."
"I get all of his attention now; he can't run away," said Dena. She plans to finish school when they return to Pocatello.
"I think it's really great. He is one of the truly good people in the world," said Larsen's mother of her son's wedding.
Dr. Stephen E. Morris performed Larsen's skin grafting operation and also played the "Wedding March" at the ceremony. Marilyn Groussman, a Burn Center social worker, coordinated the wedding. Family and friends of both the bride and groom attended.