As West suffers heartache, Waco rallies to support


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

Posted on April 18, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 19 at 1:58 AM

AUSTIN -- At Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, trauma surgeon Danny Owens described the injuries suffered by those hurt in the deadly blast in the nearby town of West.

"We've seen what you'd expect from blast injuries, a lot of skin, soft tissue injuries, some small wounds, large wounds and of course the blast effects," said Owens.

Located some 20 miles south off the tiny town of West, the sprawling Level 2 Trauma Center at the intersection of Interstate 35 and State Highway 6 in Waco has become the hub for updates on the injured.

At a media conference shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday, hospital CEO Glenn Robinson said roughly 100 people had been treated at Hillcrest. An additional 56 had been treated at Waco's Providence Health Center, along with six at Scott and White Memorial Health Center in Temple.

Owens said the injured at Hillcrest included at least three children and a number of elderly residents who had been living in a nursing home near the West Fertilizer Company plant. As of the afternoon media update, five of the 28 still being held at Hillcrest remained in intensive care.

Robinson said 285 additional nurses and staff, including several from West, raced to the hospital's aid as victims began coming in. Thanks to the efforts of surgeons working through the night, Robinson says no victims had died under Hillcrest's care.

"I would say their efforts have truly been heroic," said Robinson.

The scene overnight was one of confusion, with family and friends rushing to the hospital, anxious for news of loved ones.

Already, Waco residents were offering help. A group of volunteers from Blair's Cove apartments showed up in the middle of the night to offer spare units for those displaced.

"I have 25 units, about 50 spaces available and I felt that I could offer a little bit more than just sleeping on the floor," one volunteer told KVUE.

Thursday afternoon the giving focused on blood, with many waiting for hours in the cold before walking through the doors of Carter BloodCare. Steven Traylor showed up at 9 a.m. after watching the tragedy unfold last night on television.

"It was just crazy," said Trayler. "I just couldn't imagine what everybody's going through, and I thought about ways to go and help but I could see all the chaos."

Robinson says it's inspirational.

"We're so thankful," said Robinson. "We're humbled by the outpouring of giving we've seen."

By late Thursday evening, Hillcrest and Scott and White staff announced further information on injuries would be posted online at