Emergency crews investigating explosion in northeast Cedar Rapids

Published: Apr. 19, 2016 at 4:43 PM CDT
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Good Samaritans helped pull a man out of a apartment unit moments after an explosion in Cedar Rapids Tuesday afternoon.

First responders took the man, identified as Terry Johnson, to the University of Iowa hospitals, with serious injuries.

The explosion happened around 4:30 p.m. at the Hardwick Apartments in Cedar Rapids.

A moment of panic for residents at Hardwick apartments.

"I felt the vibrations mostly in the floor," Resident Nicholas Drake said.

And also for those living nearby.

"I was facing towards the part that exploded, kids were outside and I just seen the wall come towards us, glass was everywhere and we just ran to the garage," Neighbor Tara Tucker said.

Broken glass and charred walls are all that's left at this apartment unit, where authorities say the explosion occurred.

Police say they don't know what caused the explosion.

But say man living there was taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals.

"Chair was on fire, papers, what not, we put it out," Shawn Vontalge said.

At least three good Samaritan helped rescue the man.

They say the man is in his sixties and has disabilities.

"He couldn't talk, couldn't walk so I just kinda worried about him," Resident Luke Snyder said.

The Samaritans say they found the man sleeping in his bed.

"Some of the ceiling had fallen on him so we got him out and took him off the bed and brought him right here," Snyder said.

A moment rescuers say came as second nature.

"It's kinda unreal but you know it happens so just respond the best you can," Snyder said.

Authorities their priority is making sure everyone who is displaced has a safe place to stay the next few nights.

They say the next steps are to repair the structure and create a temporary wall.


Cedar Rapids emergency personnel are investigating reports of an explosion in northeast Cedar Rapids where at least one person is being treated for injuries sustained in the blast.

The incident under investigation occurred at 1414 Oakland road NE in Cedar Rapids at the Hardwick apartments.

The wall of one unit was completely blown out.

"I was just sitting in my bedroom and I was sitting on the bed and I felt it more than I heard it," said Hardwick resident Nicholas Drake. "It was loud and the vibration was awful."

Luke Snider had just walked in the door and sat down in his unit when he said he heard a loud boom and felt the building shake.

"I ran outside and we noticed that the front end of the whole apartment had blown out," recalled Snider. "I knew the resident that lived there was handicapped so we called out for him and we heard him say he was in the bedroom."

Snider acted immediately, grabbing a fire extinguisher from the stairwell to put out the flames blocking his path to the unit.

"then when I ran in there we had to move some stuff out of the way to get to the bed and some of the ceiling had fallen on him, so we had to get that off him. Then I picked him out of his bed and carried him outside."

12 of the 16 available units are currently occupied by residents who will be unable to stay in their apartments tonight because of the explosion. They are working with the Red Cross to find a place to stay and some resources to help them get through the incident.