October 14, 1997 in City

Family Of Burned Couple Grateful For Help Don And Irma Wilson Are In Critical, But Stable, Condition In A Nashville, Tenn., Hospital

Associated Press
 

The children of a Spokane couple severely burned when an underground electrical transformer exploded say they’re grateful for the support from local residents.

“I just can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful people have been,” Sherry Carter said Sunday from the critical care waiting room of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“Every time I’ve been here thinking how hungry I am or how sad I am, someone comes in. It has been beautiful.”

Carter and her brother Randy Wilson are hoping Irma and Don Wilson, both 64, will continue to recover from Friday’s accident that killed one man and injured a fourth person.

Michael Hickman, 31, was on a ladder painting an awning outside the under-construction NASCAR Cafe when the transformer exploded at around 2:30 p.m. The blast knocked Hickman from his ladder and into a hole in the sidewalk where the transformer was located.

Hickman, who suffered second-and third-degree burns over 80 percent of his body, died at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

A fourth person, electrician Ben E. Holt, 40, of Goodlettsville, sustained second-degree burns on his arms. He was treated at a hospital and released.

The Wilsons were listed in critical but stable condition at Vanderbilt. Irma Wilson had burns over 60 percent of her body. Her husband had burns over 25 percent to 30 percent of his body.

The two were making a two-week tour of the Southeast when the explosion occurred.

They had planned to stay in a timeshare condominium in Crossville, Randy Wilson said.

Thanks to the help of a local resident, the children were able to find the rental car their parents used and gather their belongings from their motel.

A Nashville Electric Service spokesman said the transformer would be lifted from the hole and inspected.

Witnesses said the explosion occurred when a switch was flipped to turn on electricity to the restaurant, scheduled to open Nov. 10.

The explosion, which occurred about two blocks from the Nashville Arena, caused no visible damage to other downtown buildings.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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