Fundraiser planned for woman set on fire
Angela Byas faces a long road to recovery.
Byas, 33, remains at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center nearly a month after her husband, Portugal, doused her with gasoline and set her on fire. Doctors describe her injuries as a thousand times more painful than the worst sunburn.
Byas on Friday underwent a skin graft surgery on her arm and chest, and will need at least six months of rehab and a year of physical therapy.
"She still has a lot of bad days," said Faye Collins, Angela's aunt. "It's unthinkable that something like that would happen in our family. Its been horrifying. You see this stuff on the news and TV shows and you see this happen to women, but when it's your family, it's a totally different experience. It's like being in a horrible nightmare that you can't wake up from. It's just unbelievable what that man did to her. No woman should be done that way."
Byas' nightmare began on Oct. 7 at her home on Leach Avenue. An argument between the couple escalated into a savage form of domestic violence. Thomasville police arrested Portugal and charged him with attempted murder and arson. He currently is in the Davidson County Jail under a $1 million bond.
"The last time I went to visit her she told me she begged him to put her out," Collins said. "She was yelling 'please put me out, please put me out' and he just screamed 'die, die.'
"To be burned alive. You saw all those people jump from the towers during 9/11 because they didn't want to be burned. You see her and the shape she's in and you understand it better."
Collins and Angela's father, Harold Johnson, are planning a fundraiser to help raise money for the victim's family. Angela has two daughters, ages 14 and 15, who both witnessed the attack. Portugal is not the children's biological father.
Collins and Johnson on Nov. 9 at the Patriot Service Center on N.C. Highway 109 are holding a hot dog fundraiser from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Angela Byas and Family Fund also has been established to help raise money for the victim and her two daughters. Donations can be made at any NewBridge Bank or Wells Fargo location.
Collins said the family wants to raise awareness about domestic violence in an effort to prevent more women from falling victim to abusive relationships.
"I've been down that road and I know what it's like," said Collins. "So many women have lost their lives as a result of domestic violence. Children are being murdered now and it's just a horrific thing. At the time you just don't know which way to turn. Some women are just not as strong as other women. People need to know that if they're in an abusive relationship they need to get out of it. There are a lot of places that can help you now. Women need to speak up and come forward more. Be more vocal about it."
A Davidson County Grand Jury indicted Portugal Byas on charges of attempted first degree murder, assault inflicting serious bodily injury and first degree arson. He is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 22.
For more information about the fundraiser, call Collins at 476-5071.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.