KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Speaking publicly for the first time in a week, JJ's Restaurant owner Jimmy Frantze described the injuries and the trauma his family of employees is enduring.
“There were nine of my employees in that building when it exploded,” he said Thursday.
One employee remains hospitalized for serious burns. Others are still dealing with cuts, bruises, hearing loss and more.
“The rest of the staff, there's a lot of trauma to begin with,” Frantze said. “My staff wakes up with nightmares. They’re dealing with the fact that they were traumatized. They were in a situation where they could have been hurt very badly.”
One employee, Megan Cramer, died. Frantze said they almost lost another.
“My sous chef was still in the kitchen, half buried in the ruble. One of my bartenders grabbed a passerby on the street, ran back into the building while it was on fire, and pulled, Patrick Woodward is his name, out of the ruble, out of the fire, and no doubt saved his life,” he explained.
Frantze’s brother and co-owner, Dave Frantze, credited the staff for their loyalty and bravery.
“These are not first responders,” Dave Frantze said. “These were waiters, servers and bartenders and kitchen staff and they took and made sure every customer got out before they left.”
Both brothers say they are overwhelmed with Kansas City's outpouring of support. That support includes Thursday’s big announcement that the Sprint Center and its owner, AEG, are donating $50,000 to the JJ’s Staff Assistance Fund.
The community can also donate to the fund at any Country Club Bank. The funds will benefit anyone injured and left without a job by the explosion.
“I don't think I can say this enough,” Jimmy Frantze said. “This is a community that I'm so proud to be a part of. I've just never seen anything like it in my life. I want to thank everyone.”
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The wintry weather made for dangerous conditions on the roads causing several accidents and multiple car pile-ups across the metro.