KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Though many people remember the images of that explosion, Mike Tanner doesn’t remember any of it even though he was right in the middle of the blast.
“I mean, I remember going down there and getting there and looking at the situation and speaking with my guys,” Tanner said.
Tanner is a supervisor for Heartland Midwest and responded to the scene after the crew installing fiber optic cable for Time Warner called to report they had struck a gas line.
Cell phone video taken at the scene just before the explosion shows him standing next to JJ’s checking out the situation. Based on that video, he and his attorney believe he was only at the scene about 15 minutes before the explosion happened.
Tanner told 41 Action News the break didn’t seem any different than others that typically happen in the drilling industry.
Unknown to him at the time, Tanner and Missouri Gas Energy worker Mike Palier were standing in an area where Public Service Commission investigators believe gas could have pooled. Their report shows a large gap between the pavement, the soil and the east wall of the restaurant.
This could also explain why Tanner and Palier were among the most severely injured in the accident.
“I had burns on 22 percent of my body, I've had broken ribs, a compression fracture, I have nerve damage in my back, I have nerve damage in my left arm,” Tanner said about his injuries.
Tanner also does not have movement in his left arm and had to have his spleen removed.
Tanner said he is thankful for the Kansas City firefighters who carried him out. He does not remember them doing so, he’s only seen in pictures taken at the scene.
Surveillance camera video may also help shed light on the urgency at the scene prior to the explosion.
In the Missouri Public Service Commission report, MGE workers reported to the state agency they told people in the restaurant to evacuate. Many of the injured JJ’s employees are represented by attorney Grant Davis. Davis disagrees with what MGE reported to the PSC.
“MGE told them for a long period of time it's safe it's under control you don't need to leave in fact they said stay,” Davis said.
Davis said when MGE did tell people to leave, it was not emphatic.
said something along the lines of maybe you ought to leave. But it wasn't ‘You need to get out! You need to get out now because there might be an explosion!’” Davis said.
In surveillance video, you can see customers strolling out of the building minutes before the explosion. You also see an MGE worker walking out alone.
Minutes later, the building exploded. JJ’s server Megan Cramer died in the explosion, 12 other people were injured.
When asked about the condition of his clients, Davis declined to comment citing the ongoing litigation.
Tanner and his family continue to sort out a new normal. Mike is back to work part time but still undergoing treatment for his injuries.
“We're just now kind of realizing what all has changed and then coming to the realization of how much stuff will probably stay changed,’ Tanner’s wife Crystal said.
“Just one day at a time now,” Tanner said about his recovery. “I’ve got to get back to a normal life.”