Truckee resident injured in Tahoe blast
Truckee resident C.R. Powell said he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, but said he considers himself lucky to still have his limbs.
“What the man (bomber) did was wrong,” the 24-year-old said. “But I know I was lucky. I totally forgive him.”
Powell parked his Jeep in the lot near the Tahoe Yogurt Factory at the intersection of highways 89 and 28 the afternoon of July 4. He said he and three friends were walking in a nearby alley before Tahoe City’s annual fireworks display when the bomb went off. The bomb was hidden in a traffic cone which complicated the injuries.
“I didn’t know that I was hurt,” he said. “I walked up to the people sitting outside of the Yogurt Factory and said, ‘There’s been an explosion, there are people hurt, call 9-1-1,’ and no one moved. I don’t think they understood exactly what I was saying so I repeated myself and that’s when people began to react.”
Powell said he finally looked down at his hands and saw they were full of blood.
“That’s when I knew I was definitely injured,” he said. “I can’t believe I’m still alive.”
Powell and his three friends; Melinda Prohaska, 24, Martin Hauser, 25, and Alicia Wilke, 22, all of Tahoe City; were rushed to Tahoe Forest Hospital, where surgeons proceeded to remove the rubber from their skin – molten rubber that had fused with skin causing its necessary removal from deep within Powell’s muscle tissue.
“The base of the cone was heavy rubber,” he said. “When the bomb exploded, flaming rubber and pavement hit us pretty hard.”
Beside the large holes and abrasions on Powell’s arms and legs left behind as reminders of the blast, chunks of rubber still remain under the skin on his left palm.
He said much of the back of his left leg was deeply impacted by the shrapnel, while large chunks of tissue were removed from the top of his legs and forearms.
Powell’s clothes, that have been entered as evidence into the defense’s case, were tattered or ripped from his body.
“My favorite belt was entered into evidence, too,” he said. “I’m going to miss it. Depending on the length of the trial, I probably won’t be seeing it soon.”
Powell said Prohaska, who received a serious injury to her right eye, could possibly lose sight in her eye.
“I hope we all heal OK,” he said.
Powell is leaving Truckee to return to Indiana this week after he receives approval from his surgeon, Dr. Orozco.
He worked at Squaw Valley USA as a lift electrician on the construction of the Funitel, and is planning to begin medical school this fall.
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