They’re often called the “three amigos” or the “three musketeers,” all speaking to one fact.
Since early childhood, these three young men have been very close friends.
Today the three Lakeview High School graduates are in the Hennepin County Medical Center burn unit, where they’re separated by walls but not by spirit.
Cole Busack, 20, of Echo, Brody Bloch, 18, of Wood Lake, and Lane Louwagie, 20, of Echo, are recovering from extensive burns they suffered while gathered around a bonfire with other friends in rural Granite Falls in the early morning hours of April 11. A flammable liquid had been poured on the fire and injured the three as well as two others who needed to be transported for medical care.
- Update: Five young men burned Sunday at bonfire in rural Granite Falls identified
- Parker Viaene Obituary
The three friends were transported by air ambulance to HCMC. Two others, Carter Timm, 20, of Echo and Jacob Lymer, 18, Wood Lake, were treated at the Avera Granite Falls hospital.
They had all joined around the bonfire to share memories and console one another over the loss the preceding day of their friend and fellow Lakeview graduate, Parker Viaene, 20. Viaene had died in an ATV accident on April 10.
While Viaene’s loss is being grieved, many are looking for ways to assist the three young men. Accounts have been started to collect donations for the three victims to help them and their families with all of the expenses they face for medical care, as well as the lost income they need for rent and other needs.
“They were always friends,” said Kathleen Preuss of Wood Lake, who launched the accounts on behalf of Bloch. He grew up across the street from Preuss. She got to know him before she was able to befriend his parents. He was always there to help her out, whether it was to shovel snow or other chores.
Bloch is on a ventilator with second degree burns to his face and second and third degree burns to his hands and torso area. He tested positive for COVID-19 and has to be kept isolated until May 2.
Family members have been devastated by the separation, but are reaching out to him with phone and video connections every day, Preuss said. When he heard the voices of his family, “his vitals really got better,” she said.
An avid waterfowl hunter and fisherman, he always lives life to the fullest, she said. He has a lot of friends and family support, and he’s one tough guy, she said.
Busack suffered second- and third-degree burns to the back of his legs, according to his father, John Busack.
All three of the men are undergoing daily cleaning of the wounds, and will undergo skin grafting and other procedures in the recovery ahead. Family members have already been advised of the excruciating pain they will continue to endure through the recovery process.
Busack and Louwagie have been able to communicate via electronics, according to Shari Vien, a friend of the Louwagie family. Her daughter is Louwagie’s girlfriend.
“Lane has such a huge heart,” said Vien. She is hopeful that support from friends and the larger community will help him and his friends in their recovery.
Family and community support is very important, Vien said.
The loss of a former classmate and friend and the subsequent trauma of the event and burn injuries to their friends has been hard for all of the young people, Vien noted.
It’s been hard on those who came to render aid as well. Yellow Medicine County Bill Flaten said his officers are doing OK. There have been informal conversations within the department to help. The Wood Lake first responders and Avera Granite Falls staff have similarly worked internally to provide support.
To assist the burn victims, the following accounts have been established. A Go Fund Me account was to be established for Cole Busack after press time, and can be accessed by going to the Go Fund Me website and searching for Cole Busack.
To assist Brody Bloch:
To assist Lane Louwagie:
- On GoFundMe.com — Search for Raising donations for Lane Louwagie
- On Venmo @Lane/Louwagie
- Funds can be sent directly to:
Citizens Alliance Bank
Attn: Lane Louwagie Benefit
PO Box 276
Echo MN 56237
To assist Cole Busack:
- A GoFundMe.com account was to be established for Cole Busack after press time and can be accessed by searching for Cole Busack.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct the Gofundme.com account name for Brody Bloch.