WILSON, N.Y. (WIVB) - A family was inside their Niagara County home when a devastating explosion ripped it to pieces. Heartache soon emerged when they discovered 14-year-old Sarah Johnson did not survive.
The fatal blast rocked the rural community of Wilson Tuesday morning and could be heard for miles. Eleven hours after the explosion, investigators continued to sift through the pieces of home, shot in all directions when the explosion happened at 6 a.m.
Matt Henderson woke up immediately after the blast and found it had blew out a window on his home. He looked out to see his neighbor's house on Chestnut Road was gone. In the driveway was Jody Johnson, a father of five, kneeling with his head in his hands. Sitting in the grass was his wife, Judy, calling out the name, "Sarah."
"It looks like they were thrown from the house," said Niagara County Undersheriff Michael Filicetti.
|>> Full Coverage: See photos of the explosion, the victims, and the vigil. Listen to audio of crews learning of the devastation. Read stories about the community coming together for the Johnson family.|
In Wilson, there are no natural gas lines. Residents use propane tanks to heat their homes. And if there is a leak, it can be explosive. Officials say it does appear as though the home explosion does have something to do with the propane tank.
People five miles away in Lockport heard the explosion.
"I was outside and the windows in the plaza shook," said one witness.
The two-story house was built just ten years ago. There are seven in all in the Johnson family. Fourteen-year-old Sarah Johnson was killed at the scene. She was found hours after the explosion. Her 18-year-old sister, Katie, is in critical condition at ECMC with severe burns. Jody and Judith Johnson, the girls parents, and their son 16-year-old Nathan remain at the hospital in stable condition. Two of the Johnsons' children, 16-year-old Hannah and 10-year-old Sam, were not home at the time of the explosion and were sleeping at a friend's house.
Filicetti said, "There were some smaller pieces, but there were some rather large. Like the rafters, wood that they had to go through to try to recover Sarah."
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