Richmond Hill family watches as home is demolished
The Nov. 10th explosion in the Richmond Hill subdivision left several families homeless. On Friday, one family returned to the neighborhood to watch their home being demolished.
It's been nearly seven weeks since the blast, and while some have put the tragedy behind them, that's not the case for residents of the neighborhood.
It was an emotional day for the Olvey family, who have lived in Richmond Hill for seven years. They were at home on the night of the explosion. The Olveys were hospitalized with cuts, bruises and other injuries but they survived.
The Olveys were only able to salvage a few mementos and little else. They are living with relatives as they try to rebuild their lives.
The family said watching their home being torn apart was the worst day they ever spent in the neighborhood. But as heart-wrenching as it was, Glenn Olvey said it was something he had to watch for himself.
"I needed to be here when it came down. It had been part of our life for years," said Glenn Olvey.
"It's just like when a close friend passes away, you don't want to be there but you have to," he added. "We decided a long time ago, right after this happened, that if the house came down, we're gonna be here."
The Olveys lived next to the home that exploded. The family lost almost everything to neighbors Monserrate Shirley and Mark Leonard, who investigators claim blew their home up to cash in on $300,000 in insurance.
But Olvey is with holding judgement. "I want them to get into trial," he said carefully, "I want all the facts to come out. And I want to hear everything. I want the judge and jury to decide, did they do this?"
The explosion killed two people and claimed 31 homes in this neighborhood. Those homes were either destroyed by the blast and fire or so badly damaged city inspectors said they must be torn down.
As of Friday, 23 homes had been demolished. A demolition crew was busy taking down another home down the block.
It was the first time Jeff McMahon could bring himself, to watch any of his neighbor's homes torn apart. Although his home is fine, McMahon had an uneasy feeling. "Almost a guilt factor," he explained. "You have to watch this and you are living in your house. It is difficult sometimes."
The city won't meet its goal of having all the severely damaged homes demolished by the end of the year. A spokesman expects expects they will be finished in the next two weeks.
The explosion killed Jennifer and Dion Longworth, who lived next door to the home that exploded.
Monserrate Shirley, Mark Leonard and his brother Robert Leonard have been charged with arson and murder in connection with the blast. They could face the death penalty.
Back in the Richmond Hill neighborhood, the Olvey family walked way from the pile of rubble that was their home, trying to put their worst day behind them and put their lives back together.