Richmond Hill family among many explosion heroes
One year ago this weekend, the Richmond Hill neighborhood was literally rocked to its core after an explosion leveled homes and killed two people.
One family not only survived the explosion, they made sure their neighbors did, as well.
The McDonalds were entertaining guests at their home a couple blocks down the street the night of November 10, 2012. That's when they heard and felt a blast that led them to a heavily damaged home for a life-saving experience they'll never forget.
"A giant explosion shook the house," said David McDonald.
"We stand up and go to the front door and it's blown wide open. You could see the big mushroom cloud. You're standing there and looking and seeing everything is on fire," said Kirk McDonald.
It was scary and surreal all at once. With a single blast, the Richmond Hill neighborhood was up in flames. Eyewitness News caught up with David McDonald and his cousin, Andy, that night in the midst of the chaos moments after the deafening explosion.
"As soon as we heard that, we ran to the house," said David.
"We walked outside and we heard one girl scream, don't remember which daughter, and he hit me and said, 'We gotta go!'" said Andy.
Just like that and without hesitation, Andy, David and his dad, Kirk, ran straight toward danger to a home two doors away from the blast site.
One year later, the three walked us through the events of a night they'll never forget.
"There's a house right here and that's the Olvey's house," explained Kirk.
"We actually came running in right here, hopped the fence and came through this way in the back of the house where their kitchen and dining room is where we found the first daughter," said Andy.
"I just pretty much grabbed her and saw she was bleeding from the head. I actually had my favorite shirt on and I took that off and wrapped it around her head and told her to go up front. That's when I went back in and saw the other daughter up front, grabbed her," said David.
"I just remember hearing a guy underneath the debris and somebody saying, "Hey, my dad is right here in this area in the kitchen"," recalled Andy.
"That's when I saw him throwing stuff out the door. I think at one point he hit me in the face with a chair, I'll let that one go. That's when I saw he was digging out the dad," said David.
"That's when we saw the mother and, basically at that point, all you could see was her head sticking out from underneath everything and didn't realize she was actually stuck on a recliner. All the debris had actually landed on top of her and trapped her. She actually had a 2x4 that kinda pierced into her leg. So we had to be careful there," said Kirk.
But the clock was ticking.
"You look up and all of a sudden you see flames and you think, 'Oh, man'," Kirk said. "The first thought is, 'This house is going to blow up.'"
It didn't blow up, but was swept up in flames just moments after the McDonald's pulled the couple and their two pre-teen daughters from the ruins.
"When you looked at that and saw how much of the house actually burned and where we were standing, it hits you then, man, we were lucky, really lucky," said Kirk.
That's why the McDonalds received several awards for their bravery, including the Indiana Heroes Award given by the Pacers and a Citizens Commendation presented by the Indianapolis Fire Department.
"I don't view myself as a hero. I view this neighborhood and this community as a hero, because everyone that pitched in that night and did everything. We weren't the only story of people helping that night. There were hundreds of others," said David.
There are many stories like this one and they've drawn this neighborhood so close together. The McDonalds have visited with the family they saved several times since that scary night. Two families who didn't know each other before the explosion are now close friends, sharing a special bond of life.