TODAY

TODAY   |  April 18, 2013

Texas explosion witness: ‘Things just went black’

Derrick Hurtt, who captured video of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Tex., calls it “a horrific scene,” and Glenn Robinson, Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center CEO, discusses the injuries trauma surgeons are treating at the hospital.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> is the man who recorded the dramatic moment of the explosion. he is with us now along with his daughters chloe and kenley. good morning to all of you.

>> good.

>> i'm doing good.

>> derek , how are you guys doing this morning? obviously the video is incredible, but the audio also where chloe started to scream to you. "i can't hear. i can't hear." how is everyone this morning?

>> inner ear's a little sore. but other than that, we do have our full hearing back.

>> you were driving in the area. you saw the flames initially, did you realize they were coming from that fertilizer plant? or did you think they were coming from something else?

>> we thought it was maybe the high school . we drove over to check it out and saw it was the fertilizer plant burning. and we were going to shoot a little video of it and get out of there and we just didn't make it out in time.

>> can you give me an idea, derek , how close you were to that building at the time it exploded. sometimes it's hard to tell looking through the lens of the camera. were you couple hundred yards away, 1/2 mile away? what do you estimate?

>> i would say probably about 250 to 300 yards.

>> and describe the blast. looks like the camera's completely knocked out of your hands. i understand you ended up kind of on top of chloe in the car. describe the shockwaves.

>> i'm pretty sure it lifted the truck off the ground. it blew me over on top of her and it all happened so quick that things kind of went black for a moment.

>> did you get a chance, derek , to look at the area around the plant. we have reports and we just heard from a gentleman in the neighborhood surrounding that plant that several blocks were level. did you get to see that firsthand?

>> i did.

>> what was it like?

>> it was a pretty horrific scene some of the injuries we saw. there was probably double digit people standing in front of me videoing. they were closer than i was. and after the blast, they were nowhere to be seen.

>> derek , it's a small town , do you know anyone working in that plant at the time? have you heard of anyone you know dying as a result of this explosion or being severely injured?

>> yes, i do know some of the casualties. i'm not aware of anybody working at this facility at that hour.

>> all right. derek , i just want to say thank you for joining us. i know it's difficult. chloe and kenley, thank you, as well. and our thoughts with all the folks in west, texas, this morning.

>> thank you.

>>> glenn robinson is the ceo of hillcrest baptist medical center where at least 100 patients have been treated so far. mr. robinson, thank you for being with us.

>> good morning, savannah.

>> can you give us an update, sir, on the status of the patients you have treated, what kind of injuries you're seeing?

>> absolutely. our trauma surgeons are now advising us that we will probably admit at least 28 of the patients that have arrived here over the past several hours here at hilcrest baptist medical center . the types of injuries we're seeing are the types of injuries you would expect to see following such a blast. a lot of lacerations, some small, some large, puncture wounds. in addition, we're seeing orthopedic injuries, broken bones and also some head injuries , as well.

>> you mentioned some of the types of injuries you're treating. if you seen anything related at all to some of the noxious or toxic fumes some are seeing at the fertilizer plant?

>> considering the nature of the blast, your question is most appropriate. i would say, though, we saw initially a few patients that were brought to us. they had irritation in or around their eyes and we were able to irrigate those and provide them relief, as well as treating their other injuries. but later as the evening went on, we did not see those types of patients presenting with those symptoms and that type of illness. of course, as with any sort of chemical explosion like this, all of our health care professionals are keeping an eye open, looking for any patients that may present within the next 24, 48 hours that may exhibit any signs of additional exposure to these types of chemicals.

>> glenn robinson , thank you for your time this morning, sir, on a busy morning.

>>> meanwhile, the weather is playing a critical role in all