Atlanta Woman Rachel Brokaw Set on Fire by Estranged Boyfriend Recovering
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ATLANTA - It was a brazen and bold attack that left a woman scarred for life. Rachel Brokaw, 29, is now recovering from deep burns after police say her estranged boyfriend set her on fire.
"She's really a great, wonderful person. She's always been there for everybody. She lights up the room everytime," the victim's friend, Kevin Reilly.
In pictures, you can see just what Rachel Brokaw's friend is talking about. The young, energetic, metro Atlanta teacher was beautiful both on the inside and out. But other pictures show the result of a relationship gone wrong.
"It's very difficult to wrap your mind around that someone could do that to another human being," said the victim's mother, Paula Howell.
According to police, on the morning of May 11, Brokaw's estranged boyfriend pulled behind her at a Barrett Parkway gas station and doused her with gasoline. He then set her on fire.
"He was very obsessive over her. Always calling her. Those signs started to show up. Always asking about her, calling her friends to see where she is, not trusting her and Rachel's a very trusting person," said Reilly.
Brokaw sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns on more than 25 percent of her body, including her face, chest, hands and arms. We talked to her mother by phone who says Rachel's road to recovery has been a long one.
"She feels, a lot times, not comfortable in her own skin because it's not normal. It's not a normal feeling," said Howell.
Fortunately, Brokaw received immediate care at the Grady Burn Center - one of only two burn centers in the state. Because of the severity of her injuries, the expertise doctors provided was crucial.
"Occasionally burns require skin grafting or temporary dressings, some sort of artificial dressing that allows the skin to heal itself," said Dr. Dr. Gary Vercruysse of the Grady Burn Center.
Morgan Yarbrough, 25, has been charged in the attack and remains jailed in Cobb County.
Rachel's family and friends have created a website, reachouttorachel.com , that focuses on her recovery and preventing this type of tragedy from happening to others.
"The best thing to do is reach out to somebody if you're in that situation. Try and talk to somebody about it and see if they can help," said Reilly.
"If we can reach just one person that can see the signs and leave before something horrible happens, it's definitely worth it to get that message out. It needs to stop. It just needs to stop," said Howell.
Rachel's family and friends have started the Reach Out to Rachel Foundation to increase awareness about domestic violence. On the site you will find useful information about warning signs of abuse.