A Kansas City doctor says a Time Warner Cable subcontractor was notified about a gas leak hours before an explosion rocked a popular restaurant on the Country Club Plaza.
The doctor says crews had a lackadaisical attitude about concerns, and that one person was allowed to smoke in the area after receiving complaints about the strong odor of gas.
The explosion tore through the area about 6 p.m. Tuesday. The first report had been made at 1 p.m. to the Heartland Midwest, when they smelled the strong odor, said Dr. John Verstraete.
"We were really upset. They seemed to laugh it off," he said in an interview with KCTV5's Sandra Olivas. "The construction crews working outside. We were like, 'Hey, we smell gas.' . . . They were just, 'Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.'"
He said his employees assumed that subcontractor would have it investigated and notify Missouri Gas Energy.
He said one of the construction workers even was smoking outside, which upset some of the doctor's office employees because of how strong the smell of gas was.
Verstraete of Plaza Physicians Group said Missouri Gas Energy crews finally had come out and tested the air about 5 p.m. He said the crews determined that the natural gas was at a dangerous level and advised immediate evacuation.
"We locked up the doors and tried to get our personal items," he explained. "It was like two minutes and all of a sudden there was this big explosion. It went through you like a sonic wave. You felt it go through your body."
He said glass shattered, and an upper floor wall caved in.
"I know JJs took most of the explosion," he said. "I just hope everyone is OK that was in there."
Everyone made it out of the doctor's office and spa. Outside, they discovered a bystander who had been injured by debris.
The doctor provided aid to his cuts, bruises and scrapes.
"He was shell-shocked," Verstraete said.
His two dogs were inside the office at 906 W. 48th St. when the explosion occurred.
Verstraete's yellow lab Perseus panicked and bolted. The dog was last seen near the Nelson-Atkins Museum. If you see the dog, please call the doctor at 816-756-3526.
He said he is quite concerned about everyone inside JJ's at the time of the explosion. He said he cannot imagine the extent of injuries suffered by those closer to the blast than him and others in his office building.
"This is a terrible ordeal that happened," Verstraete said. "I hope they are OK."
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