Lebanon Reporter

State News

November 2, 2013

1963 coliseum blast still shapes survivor's life


"There's a hell of a mess out here," a firefighter radioed back to dispatch, as he asked for more support.

"How many hurt, do you know?" the dispatcher replied, according to The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1dJ6cFb ).

"Oh hell — I imagine around 50, 75, maybe 100."

". . . What caused it, do you know?"

"Gas blowed up," the firefighter responded. "You got the gas company on the way?"

When Janie awoke she was buried under concrete. A boy, maybe 14 or 15 years old, was buried under her.

Janie looked down at her blue-and-white gingham blouse. Her first thought when she saw the blood was that she was in trouble. A new birthday gift from Grandma, and she had already gone and dirtied it up.

She reached up and touched her hair. More blood. She traced it to the crown of her head. She pushed her thumb down on the cut, and came into direct contact with her own skull.

The boy was doubled over, his torso over his legs in a kind of U-shape. Janie lay prone on his back, her feet out behind her.

Rescuers tried to pull the boy out from under her, or at least into a more upright position. But as they did, they pushed Janie up against a slab of concrete, pressing the air out of her lungs. She began to scream.

I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

They finally pried the boy out, and set about pulling on her. They didn't quite get her at first, as her feet were tangled in rubble.

Eventually it was cleared away, and she was free. She was told to go to the hospital.

She wasn't the type to disobey the orders of adults — she was Al and Violet White's daughter, after all. But this she could not abide. Again, she was Al and Violet White's daughter. And they were missing.

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