Turns out this was no prank.

No reasonable person could hear the shocking details of what Ray Mullen says happened to him and call it a prank. He is the 27-year-old man who fell asleep on the couch at a friend's house in Atlantic County and woke up on fire.

Authorities called it a "prank that went terribly, terribly wrong" when the story first broke. All we knew then was friends David Sult and Brandon Perez allegedly played some sort of prank on their sleeping friend, which resulted in him catching fire. I think we were all thinking of some dumb thing like the old-fashioned hot foot, where you'd stick a match between someone's toes and light it. Or something equally banal.

Now, police say Sult and Perez took lighter fluid and squirted it all over Mullen then set him ablaze. Mullen is now talking. He told NJ.com that he woke in a panic. He bolted outside the house, on fire, and the friends gave chase. As he ran screaming, his body burning, he says he recalls one of them yelling, "I'll show you how it's done Dave!" He says they doused him with more lighter fluid, adding to the fire that was already consuming Mullen's body.

He said multiple people looked on doing nothing as he struggled. He finally hit the ground and rolled and eventually put the fire out on his own.

What happened next is equally shocking. Burned over 30% of his body and in agonizing pain, his attackers took his car keys and wouldn't give them back. They ridiculed him while he begged, no doubt screaming. Finally they threw the keys at him. No one helping him, he had to drive himself 40 minutes to his mother's home where she rushed him to a hospital.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why this was categorized by police as a "prank" that went terribly, terribly wrong. Dousing someone with lighter fluid, setting them on fire, then dousing them more once they're already burning is obviously not a prank. Sult and Perez were charged with aggravated arson, aggravated assault and conspiracy. How is this not attempted murder? How is this being regarded as a prank that got out of hand? These so-called friends are 23 and 24 years old. They had to know he was likely to die.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Ray Mullen, which you can view here. He suffered third-degree burns over 30% of his body. He has lost 30 pounds. He has had skin grafts and blood transfusions. He's lost sensation in his fingers and has trouble moving them. He was making something of himself. He was an HVAC apprentice, learning a solid trade. Now doctors tell him he cannot return to work for at least one year. His mother had to leave her job just to care for him. This poor man's life is a mess. This. Was. Not. A. Prank.

Perez and Sult need to have charges upgraded to attempted murder. They should be in prison for the rest of their lives, which, of course, won't happen. The only prank here is the lack of stiffer charges. That's the real joke in this situation.

More from New Jersey 101.5

Sign up for the NJ1015.com Newsletter

Get the best of NJ1015.com delivered to your inbox every day.