Rosevolds have much to be thankful for
You can bet that Suzanne and Hans Rosevold said a plethora of thank-yous Thursday at their Lake Tahoe Thanksgiving dinner.
First on the list? Thank you for our lives.
Less than a month ago, the Rosevold’s home on Andria Drive off Kingsbury Grade was destroyed in an explosion that so far has been attributed to a natural gas pipe leak.
Both Suzanne, executive director for the Business Council of Douglas County since December 1999, and her husband Hans, a teacher at Diamond Valley School in Alpine County, Calif., were home at the time – unusual for 2:20 in the afternoon.
“Hans had taken the day off to fix the rain gutters for the snow,” Suzanne said from her temporary home, a handicapped unit apartment at Embassy Vacation Resort. She has a crushed heel that required extensive reconstructive surgery and a broken back necessitating the use of a restrictive back brace.
Rosevold had been at work that morning, leaving the Carson Valley a little after 1 p.m. to join her husband at the home they bought in 1993. When she arrived, technicians from the gas company were parked in front of the house.
“They were consultants and told us it was a routine safety check – that they’d detected gas around our house and were following up on that,” she said. “They had called for a technician to come and check it out, and they told us to sit tight and wait, but not to turn anything on, so that’s what we did. We had just tuned our spinet piano, so I was playing it and Hans was in the kitchen.”
Within what seemed like moments, Suzanne and the piano were airborne.
“I knew right away it was a gas explosion, even as both the piano and I were going up and the air around us was swirling,” Rosevold said. “I said to myself, ‘I’m dead, I’m going to die.’ Then, something hit me square in the face – I don’t even know what it was, but it hurt and then I really thought I was going to die, but I remember thinking I hoped it wouldn’t hurt too much.”
Rosevold said she doesn’t remember crashing to the floor with the piano – luckily it didn’t land on her – but the impact crushed her heel bone and broke her back.
“The doctors later said that the force it takes to crush a heel bone is tremendous,” she said. “I laid there and looked up, and there was no ceiling and no roof. I realized I was alive and looked over toward the kitchen to where Hans had been and it was leveled. Then, I knew I had to get out of there quickly because if the blast had been caused by the natural gas, there could be fire.”
Rosevold said her injuries were excruciating and she knew right away she wouldn’t be able to walk out of the rubble.
“At that point, I didn’t have time to think ‘This is the end,'” she said. “I had to crawl over the debris before there was another explosion or a fire. I heard Hans and told him not to come in. I couldn’t walk on my heel, and could barely breathe. Randy Cox, our neighbor, came there and I told him not to come in. It had been snowing and everything was waterlogged – we were lucky for that.”
Suzanne and Hans did manage to get out of the house and to the hospital, where Suzanne stayed until the following Monday.
Hans, a Vietnam veteran, suffered cuts and bruises after being catapulted from the kitchen into the yard.
“He told me that while he was in Vietnam he was within blasting distance of mortar attacks, and compared to our house, that was nothing,” Suzanne said.
Hans is back to work, but Suzanne has a lengthy recovery ahead of her, she said.
“I have to stay absolutely off my heel for three months,” she said. “And then I’ll be six weeks in the back brace. I broke the T-7 vertebrae, which is in the middle of back, and it impacts my breathing sometimes. I’m OK when I lay flat, but this brace is extremely restrictive.”
n The Rosevolds have now moved to a semi-permanent home in Skyland where they plan to stay while their home is being rebuilt. You may write them at P.O. Box 5845, Stateline, NV 89449.
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