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U journalism professor Chris Ison burned in propane accident; recovery expected

Chris Ison
Chris Ison

Just got word that U Journalism Prof. Chris Ison was badly burned over the weekend in a Wisconsin propane accident. The good news, according U colleagues, is that the family is optimistic Ison will make a full recovery.

It’s no exaggeration to say Ison, who won the Pulitzer at the Star Tribune (ironically, now, for an investigation into arson-for-hire), is a well-loved member of the U faculty and deeply respected by scores of students and colleagues. We’re all hoping for a full recovery.

Here’s an email update forwarded to me from the U’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications leader Al Tims:


I just spoke with Nancy (Chris’s spouse) and am delighted to report that Paul’s initial report can be refined.

Chris has 2nd degree burns on his hands, face, top of his head and legs, but not on his chest or back.  His eyes are swollen as are his lips.  Nancy describes his face as looking like he has a very severe sunburn.  All of the skin is intact.  He is conscious but heavily medicated.   

Nancy tells us that they’re optimistic about a full recovery but that it is too soon to know when he’ll be able to leave the hospital.

Chris was lighting a propane stove when it flash exploded.  Based on Chris’ own report to Nancy (he was at the cabin alone) he ran out of the cabin and jumped in the lake — a brilliant move since cold water is the very best treatment he could have administered.  He called 911 himself,  even though his hands seem to have the worst of the burns.  The cabin is a total loss.   He was transported to the hospital in Rhinelander, Wisconsin and then by jet to Minneapolis.  

Nancy will speak with Chris about his final grading chores and let us know what we can do to help wrap things up.  She confirmed that Chris will not be recovered sufficiently to teach Jour 3771 during the May term.   

Chris was very lucky, all things considered.   I can’t begin to tell you what a relief it is to have this relatively good news.

Nancy says it is too soon to visit with Chris but that she’ll let us know when the time comes.

I’ll keep you posted as we learn more.  Thanks everyone for your expressions of support.


Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by John Borger on 05/07/2012 - 11:42 am.

    Sad news

    Chris is a terrific journalist and obviously a quick thinker. Here’s hoping for a quick and full recovery.

  2. Submitted by Lynnell Mickelsen on 05/07/2012 - 01:31 pm.

    Sending best wishes

    What John Borger said. Sending Chris best wishes. He’s an amazing journailst.

  3. Submitted by daniel gore on 05/07/2012 - 03:49 pm.

    My best to Chris for speedy relief

    Wishing Chris the best for a quick recovery in overcoming the unavoidable pain and discomfort. He is a talent, professionally, and a truly generous friend.

    My best,

    Daniel Gore

  4. Submitted by A Grimm on 05/07/2012 - 06:05 pm.

    Speedy recovery

    “…a well-loved member of the U faculty and deeply respected by scores of students…”
    Get well soon, Chris!
    Best wishes,
    Amanda (a former student)

  5. Submitted by Gary Hill on 05/07/2012 - 09:59 pm.

    One of the best

    Chris is an outstanding journalist and educator and his work has benefited our entire community. Here’s hoping for a full recovery and a quick return to all of the things he does so well.

  6. Submitted by Corey Poppe on 05/08/2012 - 05:31 pm.

    My Favorite Professor!

    Without a doubt, he was my favorite professor during my tenure at the U! While I only had him for one class (civic journalism…normally a boring subject for me personally), his charisma, passion and style kept me hanging on every one of his words. I hope he doesn’t miss too many terms so no student loses an opportunity to enroll in one of his classes!

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