Residents Who Recorded West Plant Explosion Tell Story Behind Video
WEST (CBS 11 NEWS) – It was around 7:30 p.m. on April 17, 2013. Derrick Hurtt had just picked up his then 12-year-old daughter, Khloey, from their church in West, when they spotted a rising plume of dark smoke, and went to check it out.
The pair drove into a lot off Reagan Street, and Hurtt started recording on his iPhone.
The massive fire at the West Fertilizer plant, on the other side of the train tracks, was only about 120 yards away. Hurtt says, “I told her we might get an explosion on video.”
Because of where they were, the Texas father said he wasn’t worried about their safety. “I thought we were far enough away even if one tank were to blow we’d be in the clear.”
The next thing they new, not only did one tank blow — the whole plant exploded. On the video Khloey could be heard yelling that she couldn’t hear and asking her dad to drive away from the area.
“When it first happened, I really honestly thought I was dead,” Hurtt said.
There were similar thoughts going through Khloey’s mind. “I was just worried that if I wasn’t dead, he would be dead or if I was dead, and he wouldn’t be dead. I don’t know what I would do without him.”
After the huge wave of the explosion everything went quiet. Hurtt said, “We couldn’t hear. It was like we had a set of ear muffs on for probably 30 minutes to an hour after the blast.”
Khloey worried the effect would be permanent. “I couldn’t hear him at that moment,” she said. “I was just wondering would I be able to hear again?”
The father and daughter miraculously escaped with only minor injuries. While the blast blew out their pickup truck’s windshield, falling debris managed to miss their truck.
Now, one year later, even though they still have slight and possibly permanent hearing loss, the Hurtt’s are counting their blessings.
Realizing things could have ended different Khloey said, “I just watch the video and say, ‘wow, I can’t believe we’re still alive.’ I just think I’m really lucky to still be here and get to see my family and friends.”
Derrick Hurtt agreed. “Coming here and looking at all the destruction, you just wonder how you’re still alive, and kind of deep down inside [feel] guilt about the people we did lose We should, me and her, both be right there with them. I’m just glad that nothing happened to her, and that I’m here to see my wife and other kids.”
Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack
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