A JJ's restaurant hostess said she thought she was going to die when an explosion rocked her restaurant Tuesday night, and she is frantic with fear for a missing friend.
"I thought I was going to die. Honestly, I thought I was trapped in there," said Deidre Estes, who has been working at JJ's for 14 years.
Estes said crews had been out investigating a strong gas odor in the area. She said just before 6 p.m. they suggested shutting down the restaurant. As a result, no patrons were inside the restaurant at the time of the explosion, but employees weren't frantically trying to leave either.
"They said, 'Well, because of the smell in here, you guys should really leave,' so that's why we were packing up to leave. They didn't make it sound like you need to get out this second, so we were kind of taking our time, putting things away, locking up the register and then, boom! And everything was black."
Estes said the explosion occurred just a matter of minutes after the last patron left. She was left stunned as debris rained down around her.
"I saw the flames, and I was scared I was going to burn up. And then with all my might, I got this strength and lifted the rubble off," she recalled.
In her panic, she screamed over and over for help.
She said her chef tried to get to her but couldn't. The chef suffered critical injuries.
"To the right of me I saw one of the waiters. And he took my hand and just with all my might I lifted up, I don't know if it was a ceiling tile or walls or what," she said. "And we just made our way through the rubble and just climbed out."
But getting out of the rubble was difficult.
"It was pitch black in there. You couldn't see anything," she said. "And finally I saw a little glimpse of light, so we just followed that and I just kept saying, 'Don't let go of my hand.'"
Another hostess who was working at the time is missing, and Estes is frantic with worry about her.
A man is also missing. Police said cadaver dogs have not located any bodies in the remains of the demolished building, but searchers will return at daybreak Wednesday.
KCTV5's Alan Shope interviewed Estes after she was treated at St. Luke's Medical Center for her injuries.
Estes later posted on Facebook about her ordeal.
"I am so grateful to be alive! I was inside when it happened. Thank you Drew Latourneau for pulling me out of the rubble. Thanks also to the nice neighborhood girl who drove Lindsay and me to the hospital. This is a tragedy I will never forget. Prayers please for me friend Megan, who is still missing," she said.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Friday, May 17 2013 7:16 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:16:53 GMT
One person has died in a crash near Harrisonville, MO, Thursday evening. The crash happened on Missouri Highway 7 and Walker Road. It involved a car and a tractor-trailer. Harrisonville is in Cass County.More >
Savannah Nash celebrated her 16th birthday last week. She died Thursday when her car slammed into a semi while she was texting during her first time driving by herself.More >
Friday, May 17 2013 5:59 PM EDT2013-05-17 21:59:40 GMT
The National Weather Service says there is a slight risk for severe weather on Sunday, and isolated tornadoes and supercell storms are possible.The threat for severe weather will continue into Monday.StormsMore >
The National Weather Service says there is a slight risk for severe weather on Sunday, and isolated tornadoes and supercell storms are possible.More >
Friday, May 17 2013 4:52 PM EDT2013-05-17 20:52:00 GMT
An 11-year-old girl is recovering after a distracted driver hit her and then fled.She is recovering at Children's Mercy Hospital with a broken arm, ruptured ear drum and fractured pelvis. Her family isMore >
An 11-year-old girl is recovering after a distracted driver hit her and then fled.More >
Friday, May 17 2013 7:20 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:20:10 GMT
The Rachael Ray show flew to New York a puppy that survived a month inside a locked car at Kansas City's tow lot.Ray and guest co-host Regis Philbin fawned over Kia, who was accompanied by Tori Fugate,More >
Television hosts Rachael Ray and Regis Philbin fawned this week over a puppy rescued earlier this month after living nearly a month inside a locked vehicle at Kansas City's municipal impound lot.More >
Saturday, May 18 2013 3:14 PM EDT2013-05-18 19:14:19 GMT
A Kansas City woman behind a new youth literacy program celebrated a milestone Friday night and none too soon. Jean Rundle is suffering from a heart condition and in quickly declining health. She neverMore >
A Kansas City woman behind a new youth literacy program celebrated a milestone Friday night and none too soon.More >
Wednesday, May 15 2013 2:57 PM EDT2013-05-15 18:57:11 GMT
The old saying goes, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen." Perhaps, this applies to Kitchen Nightmares, as well. An Arizona bakery was featured on Friday's episode of the Gordon RamseyMore >
The old saying goes, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen." Perhaps, this applies to Kitchen Nightmares, as well.More >
Friday, May 17 2013 6:00 PM EDT2013-05-17 22:00:49 GMT
A local cab driver is speaking up after a customer pulled a gun on him. A few hours later the same suspect was the target of a standoff with police. "I'm happy to get out of there with my life. Glad toMore >
A local cab driver is speaking up after a customer pulled a gun on him. A few hours later the same suspect was the target of a standoff with police.More >
Saturday, May 18 2013 12:47 AM EDT2013-05-18 04:47:49 GMT
For the first time, the University of Kansas awarded two Wounded Warrior Scholarships. The money, of $10,000/year for up to four years, goes to students who are injured veterans or caretakers of injuredMore >
A young marine from Kansas City, KS, was one of two recipients of the University of Kansas' new Wounded Warrior Scholarship.More >
Friday, May 17 2013 2:21 PM EDT2013-05-17 18:21:35 GMT
A woman is in custody after she allegedly struck her father in the head with a pistol, Overland Park police said Friday.The woman, who is in her middle 20s, was taken into custody about 11 a.m. This wasMore >
A woman is in custody after she allegedly struck her father in the head with a pistol, Overland Park police said Friday.More >
Friday, May 17 2013 7:11 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:11:46 GMT
Students from a suburban Kansas City school district will be nearly 600 pounds lighter when they return Friday from the spring semester at a weight-loss boarding school in South Carolina. That amountMore >
Students from the Independence School District were 600 pounds lighter when they returned Friday from the spring semester at a weight-loss boarding school in South Carolina.More >