Family members reunited after plant explosion

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - Hundreds of plant workers, who were not seriously injured, were bused to the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales following Thursday's explosion. Medical staff was on hand to check those workers. Some family members were also there, waiting to make sure their loved ones were okay.

"They said they're taking her to Oschner," Jacqueline Right said to her brother. Right and her aunt were waiting at the center for her cousin who worked at the plant. "She said she was blown back but her ears are bothering her, like they're popping."

Several people drove into the parking lot, waiting to find their family member. Workers from Williams Olefin and other area plants stepped off the buses around noon, cell phones pressed to their ears, searching for family. Most filed inside the gym at Lamar Expo where medical personnel were waiting to check them out.

"It's scary," said Betty Haile. She said as soon as she heard about the explosion she left her job in Baton Rouge to come find her husband, son and cousin. She says they all work at the plant. At the time, she says she had spoken to her son who was not far from where the fire was. "He said he heard the explosion and started running, fire started popping all on the back of his neck. He was running and fighting the fire off." Haile says an incident like this one is the reason she prays every day for her family and the others who work there.

Also in the crowd of workers, were a father and son who were reunited. Both men worked at the plant, but in different areas.

"It blew me down. I was running and it blew me off my feet. I just thought there was going to be more and more explosion," said Troy Jones.

Jones' son, Cardinous Wicks also works at the plant. Wicks says he's been an employee for six months. He says when he saw the explosion, he whispered one word: Alana, the name of his three-month-old daughter and started running.

"I thought I was going to die," he said. "People were running, can't turn back to help them because you're scared for your own life."

While each person who works at the plant realizes there is a risk of working at these types of facilities, some have never pictured something actually happening.

"I just thank God that they're alive," said Haile.

A lot of the workers and their families say they are praying for all the employees. They also say it will be some time before they are cleared to go back to work. Some say they're not sure they'll go back at all.

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