'Searing pain:' Shuttle van driver injured in Durham gas explosion recalls traumatic day

Monday, April 22, 2019
Bus driver recounts the details of being caught right next to the Durham gas explosion
EMBED <>More Videos

Bus driver recounts the details of being caught right next to the Durham gas explosion

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Rich Meyer said he cannot stop thinking about the devastating gas explosion.

"My first thought was that I get hit by a Mack truck on my door," stated Meyer.

The 65-year-old van driver for Carolina Livery and one passenger were caught in the middle of chaos.

They were just feet from the deadly gas explosion. The blast shattered all of the van's windows.

"I felt this searing pain on the left side of my face and heat," Meyer said. "I looked down and my face was soaked with blood."

The livery bus that Rich Meyers was driving the day of the explosion.

Nearly two weeks since the explosion, Meyer said he's sensitive to light and feels excruciating pain.

Shrapnel and glass pierced his body.

"I'm still picking out glass. Constant headaches I have not been able to escape," Meyer said. "I keep getting waves of emotion that come over me and I just can't stop crying. And I'm not a crier."

The passenger also survived the traumatic ordeal.

The explosion, which is still under investigation by state and local authorities, is emotional for many.

One person died, 25 were injured.

On Monday, Durham city leaders said at a news conference that eight of the nine firefighters injured in the explosion or aftermath have returned to duty except firefighter Darren Wheeler.

A dozen businesses were affected. All of them are open with the exception of those condemned.

Gov. Roy Cooper is asking for federal dollars from the U.S. Small Business Administration to support business impacted. If approved, each business could receive up $2 million in loans.

The city also said several fundraisers set up to support victims and businesses have raised $250,000.

Several crews will be around the devastated area this week including the Fire Marshal and the state's utility commission to determine what happened and who is responsible.

Officials say they will be excavating and examining the gas pipe.

There's no timetable for when the investigation will be completed.

A GoFundMe has been set up to aid in his recovery.