Explosion survivor reunited with rescuers

February 26, 2011 5:05:02 AM PST
Yolanda Collins survived an explosion in her south suburban home. She was rescued from the second floor shortly before the house bursts into flames.

The blast happened earlier this week. Now, Collins is recounting those perilous moments and thanking the men who came to her rescue.

Remarkably, the Park Forest resident received only minor injuries in the explosion. She has a 5-year-old son, but fortunately she was home alone at the time.

Three days after the blast, Collins is still shaken.

"Overwhelmed. Still hurting. It feels like it's not real," said Collins.

The explosion blew off walls and part of the roof. The aftermath of the blast captured on a neighbor's cell phone.

"My bed was being lifted, it was shattering glass, stuff falling down. It felt like I was in the Backdraft movie. The fire was just on top of me and it was heavy," recalled Collins.

Yards away were AT&T technicians Ronald Shockley and Garreth Carpenter who were busy fixing phone lines.

"We heard the lady screaming. We heard everybody screaming. So we got out, and we ran down there," said Shockley.

"Almost like out of a movie, water squirting, stuff like that, you know. The house had just blown up, the lady standing, second story, in her pajamas screaming," said Carpenter.

Shockley and Carpenter first tried to coax Collins to jump, promising to catch her. So the men took matters into their own hands.

After finding a ladder, Shockley climbed up and brought Collins down.

"He just grabbed me, put me over his shoulder, and he took me down the rest of the way," said Collins.

The men quickly led her away moments before the house erupted in flames.

"I think they are wonderful," said Collins in tears.

On Friday, ABC7 reunited Collins with the men who saved her.

"I'm just so overwhelmed. I feel very truly blessed," she said.

"I know she's alive now, and it's not a dream. It seemed like a dream until now," said Shockley.

"It's great to see her...Feels good," said Carpenter.

Collins has promised to cook the men dinner to thank them.

The cause of the blast is still under investigation, though a construction crew working on a water main nearby had reportedly cut a gas line minutes before the explosion.

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