People of West left wondering "what if?"


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist DATHAN HULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @KrisB_KVUE

Posted on April 19, 2013 at 10:25 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 19 at 10:43 PM

WEST -- Days after the explosion in West, many are still left wondering “what if?”

Riley Schier attended West High School, which was heavily damaged in the blast. He tells KVUE he’s just thankful the school track team stopped for dinner Wednesday, instead of heading straight back from a meet in Georgetown.

“Luckily all our buddies on the track team were late. They were so happy they were late because they were going to be here," he said.

Shier said it was also a call for his family.

“Our aunt, if she would have been home, they said she wouldn't have made it," Shier said.

Many families did lose loved ones, however, and now the town is mourning those lost.

”We saw them a couple of weeks ago, and now you're just not going to see them anymore,” said Shier, who said the town is more like a family.

Therapy dogs outside a special prayer service Friday at St. Mary’s Church comforted kids who had lost their homes.

Austin Bishop Joe Vasquez honored those killed.

“Proud and courageous acts of heroism, by the volunteer fireman, police officers and ordinary people," Vasquez said.

One of those volunteer firefighters was 26-year-old Jerry Chapman, who died trying to save people in the plant fire.

“He was just incredible. He was always smiling and always happy,” said Stephanie Evans, a co-worker of Chapman’s at the Hillsboro Black-Eyed Pea.

Those who knew him say their only consolation is that he died doing what he loved: “He always wanted to be a firefighter” and he died a hero.

The Black-Eyed Pea in Hillsboro will donate 20 percent of their proceeds Saturday directly to Chapman’s family.

All Black-Eyed Pea restaurants across the state of Texas will be accepting donations as well.