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Althea Bernstein emotionally talks being set on fire by white men in racist attack

“I’m very, very hopeful these men sort of see all the responses and they know that they hurt me,” she said.

Althea Bernstein Good Morning America

Althea Bernstein is sharing details about her experience after she was reportedly set on fire by four white men in what authorities are investigating as a hate crime. In a virtual interview with “Good Morning America,” the 18-year-old EMT says she doesn’t remember much about the June 24 incident.

“Once it happened, I don’t even remember anything, but your brain still has that fight or flight response that takes care of you. So, I made it home, I called my mom, I drove myself to the ER,” she said.

Bernstein says that she wishes she could remember more of what happened that day, but hopes the local police can figure it out.

“I’m very, very hopeful these men sort of see all the responses and they know that they hurt me,” she continued. “This is something that’s going to affect me for a while and I really hope that they choose to improve themselves.”

Watch her interview here:

On Wednesday, Bernstein was reportedly attacked by four white men while she sat in her car at a stoplight. The men allegedly called her the N-word then threw lighter fluid and a lighter at her.

“I was listening to some music at a stoplight and then all of a sudden I heard someone yell the N-word really loud,” she told Madison 365. “I turned my head to look and somebody’s throwing lighter fluid on me. And then they threw a lighter at me and my neck caught on fire and I tried to put it out, but I brushed it up onto my face. I got it out and then I just blasted through the red light... I just felt like I needed to get away. So, I drove through the red light and just kept driving until I got to my brother’s [home].”

The suspects sprayed the lighter fluid on the victim with a spray bottle. Police are currently investigating the occurrence as a hate crime. They are reviewing surveillance from the area to see if the attack was caught on camera. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 608-266-6014 or online at

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