Trooper Still Affected By Explosion

By: Heather Haley
By: Heather Haley

Two years after a natural gas explosion blew apart an eastern Kentucky neighborhood, it's still affecting one man who has been called a local hero.

The Ivel gas line explosion destroyed five homes and injured several people, but two years later, a state police trooper says he is still affected physically and emotionally.

It just looks like an empty grassy lot, but to Trooper Rick Conn it's a yard full of memories and fears.

"We had a close nit neighborhood and just in a matter of seconds it was gone. We lost five neighbors homes in no time," Conn said.

Conn says he was driving through his neighborhood that day and there was a strange fog and he stopped to help a neighbor because they thought it was a water leak.

He says a propane line ran under the neighborhood, only no one who lived there knew it at the time.

"I guess I made it probably a hundred feet past where the leak was and the next thing I knew my whole vehicle was engulfed. Just a ball of fire just whoosh," Conn said.

Conn's wife has put together a scrapbook of stories about that day which he calls therapy to help him deal with the pain.

There are still scorch marks on the street where Conn's car when up in flames.

He suffered second and third degree burns.

But he says he also suffered emotional trauma and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

"A pretty Monday morning, sun shining to basically Hell. I mean I told somebody before I know now why God make Hell fire because there's no worse pain," Conn said.

Conn says the explosion did give him a new outlook on life because he received support from all over the nation.

"It devastated a small community but it basically pulled a bigger community together," Conn said.

Trooper Rick Conn says he has accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of medical bills because of the explosion.

There is still legal action pending against the gas companies who owned and maintained the lines in Ivel.


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