PENDLETON, Ore. — An 8-year-old Oregon boy died from rare, flesh-eating bacteria.

The East Oregonian newspaper reports Liam Ferguson of Pilot Rock wrecked his bike Jan. 13, with the end of the handlebar slicing through his jeans and cutting into his thigh.

“When he wrecked, it went into his upper thigh just below his groin and gave him a pretty good gash," said Sara Hebard, Liam's mother.

It seemed he only needed stitches. But within days, Liam was fighting for his life.

“[Liam’s step-dad] pulls off the bandage we had had on it and he screams, ‘he's got gangrene, we've got to leave right now!” Hebard recalled.

Flesh-eating bacteria, which likely entered his wound from the soil, attacked the boy's soft tissue. He endured four surgeries before dying Sunday night at a Portland hospital.

Liam's mother and stepfather are now second-guessing themselves, wondering if they could have gotten him to the hospital sooner. They want other parents to know about the flesh-eating bacteria, known as necrotizing fasciitis, which they had previously been unaware of.

“It's so rare and they have no reason of why he got it; that it's in the soil, that it's everywhere and there's one in a million chance that he'd get it," Hebard said. "[Doctors] tell me the absolutely only way that anybody will ever know if they have this disease, this bacteria, is just more pain than is normal."

A Gofundme account had already raised $5,600 as of Wednesday to help the family with medical and funeral expenses.

“He was a bright, shining star. He protected everyone," Hebard said of her son. "Numerous times bullies at school would be picking on someone and he'd stand up for them.”

KGW's Katherine Cook contributed to this report.

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