Woman dies in SE Houston house explosion

October 24, 2010 8:15:31 AM PDT
An elderly woman is dead and her husband severely burned after an explosion at their home in southeast Houston. Neighbors rushed to try to save them both. And now investigators are working to determine what caused the explosion. The blast shook homes and rocked the entire neighborhood near Shawnee and Welk last night at around 10:30pm. Seconds later, residents opened their doors to find their elderly neighbors' house demolished

"Flames were shooting well above the trees," said resident Larry Field, who helped in the rescue. "I mean, it was awful."

The explosion nearly blew the house off its slab, sending parts of the roof flying into the trees and scattering debris everywhere. Miraculously, in a corner bathroom left standing, neighbors could hear the voice of Colin Lacroix, 84, crying for help.

"Coming out the bathroom window, it was already blown out and he had blisters all over his face," said Field. "'She's still in there.' That's all he would say. 'She's still in there.'"

Lacroix, who suffers from Alzheimer's, was talking about his 78-year-old wife, Betty, who had congestive heart failure and required oxygen tanks to breath.

"I turned and grabbed a piece of sheet rock and sifted through all the debris that had fallen and the insulation, trying to look for the elderly lady," said neighbor Troy Shelton, who also helped in the rescue.

"I went to run back, go back in to try and get her, but there was another explosion and it shook me back," said Field.

Betty Lacroix died in the fire.

Fire marshals believe this may have been a natural gas explosion, but say they're investigating several other possibilities.

The couple's children are now trying to salvage what they can and come to grips with the blast that cost them their mother and sent their father to the hospital with second and third degree burns.

"I just want to tell his family sorry and thank God somebody made it," said Field.

Colin Lacroix was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital. His daughter tells Eyewitness News he is in critical condition with severe burns on 60 percent of his body.


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