March 23, 2005
|Photo by Ed Kosmicki, Denver Post
Rev. John Nadasi of Paonia United Methodist Church is an EMT who was
one of the first on the scene after a mountain lodge exploded.
A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
of two Paonia, Colo., United Methodist churches were on the scene
binding wounds and offering prayers after a March 19 explosion at a
mountain lodge killed three children and wounded several others.
Christ came to North Fork,” said the Rev. Rick Clair in his Palm Sunday
message to the congregation of Crawford/Hotchkiss United Methodist
and the Rev. John Nadasi, pastor of Paonia United Methodist Church,
were among the first to respond. Many of the 20 to 30 people at the
lodge were family members gathered for a reunion.
“These people were hurt, burned up, lot of broken bones, and head traumas,” said Nadasi, a trained EMT.
Watkins, 3, his sister Leslie Ann Bilbrey, 12, and their cousin Jamie
Marie Reade, 16, died in the explosion. So far, investigators
believe propane gas leaked from a gas tank into the lodge, settled in
the basement and exploded.
“In the middle of their afternoon the whole building blew up underneath them. The news went out like wildfire,” Nadasi said.
“When I looked around and saw who was there, it was our church,” he
said. Many of the trained medics and emergency personnel were members of
Paonia United Methodist Church.
|A Web-only image
This file image of the Electric Mountain Lodge appears on the lodge's Web site. An explosion destroyed the Colorado property.
Nadasi said he would use the example of the community coming together to help those in need as his Maundy Thursday sermon.
than just washing each others feet we were washing the wounds, setting
the broken bones of our neighbors during this Holy Week.”
the March 19 explosion, Clair was home preparing his Sunday morning
sermon. He knew he needed to go grocery shopping but didn’t want to take
was really glad I listened to that little voice inside,” he said. “I
was working on a sermon and knew I had to go grocery shopping. I kept
putting it off and putting it off until finally something just hit me
real hard to go down and do it,” he said. While he was in the checkout
line, the cashier told him she thought he was needed at the scene of the
threw the groceries in the back of the car and headed to Paonia. On the
way up I called Pastor John and told him we were probably needed.”
Clair said he was impressed by the way people just put aside their egos and “did the right thing.”
was pretty humbling and pretty honoring to be a part of it,” he said.
“It was quite an experience. I spent a lot of time with people as they
came in, reassuring them that this was not God’s fault or God’s plan but
that God would be there through it all.”
men said it was not just the United Methodist churches that responded
but all churches and people in the community. Clair said one church was
having a going away dinner for a member of their congregation and when
they heard the news, they packed up the food and brought it to the
am sure some of the people who were there were not believers, but
whether they knew it or not they were living the hands and hearts of
Christ,” Clair said.
said the lodge was a place many locals often visited. “When you think
of the back mountains of Colorado, the most scenic area in the state,
that’s where this happened. They are really kind, decent people.”
Paonia United Methodist Church will be taking up donations to give to families. Anyone wishing to donate may call 970-527-4263.
hope all United Methodists are praying for them (the families) cause
they are sure gonna need it,” Clair said. “I am convinced we give birth
to our kids and they bury us-- we are not suppose to bury them. My faith
is rock solid, without that I don’t know how some people can get
through this sort of stuff.”
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.